Picasso and Truth offers a breathtaking and original new look at the most significant artist of the modern era. From Pablo Picasso's early The Blue Room to the later Guernica, eminent art historian T. J. Clark offers a striking reassessment of the artist's paintings from the 1920s and 1930s. Why was the space of a room so basic to Picasso's worldview? And what happened to his art when he began to feel that room-space become too confined--too little exposed to the catastrophes of the twentieth century? Clark explores the role of space and the interior, and the battle between intimacy and monstrosity, in Picasso's art. Based on the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts delivered at the National Gallery of Art, this lavishly illustrated volume remedies the biographical and idolatrous tendencies of most studies on Picasso, reasserting the structure and substance of the artist's work.
With compelling insight, Clark focuses on three central works--the large-scale Guitar and Mandolin on a Table (1924), The Three Dancers (1925), and The Painter and His Model (1927)--and explores Picasso's answer to Nietzsche's belief that the age-old commitment to truth was imploding in modern European culture. Masterful in its historical contextualization, Picasso and Truth rescues Picasso from the celebrity culture that trivializes his accomplishments and returns us to the tragic vision of his art--humane and appalling, naïve and difficult, in mourning for a lost nineteenth century, yet utterly exposed to the hell of Europe between the wars.
T. J. Clark is George C. and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Art History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Painting of Modern Life (Princeton), The Sight of Death, and Farewell to an Idea, and the coauthor of (with "Retort") Afflicted Powers.
"[B]rain-expanding but embracing, too. . . . T. J. Clark's Picasso and Truth [will] be with me for a good long time."--Jonathan Lethem, New York Times Book Review
"Clark is very good at pointing out in detail the complex and radical ways in which Picasso's paintings were conceived. He discusses a number of individual works . . . with admirable awareness of their complexity, and the book is full of acute observations."--Jack Flam, Times Literary Supplement
"Eloquent, confrontational and often disarmingly simple, Clark's writing moves quickly between levels, the metaphors heavy, the descriptions light."--Malcolm Bull, London Review of Books
"[M]asterful. . . . [E]xquisite prose. . . . This satisfyingly rigorous book is grounded in Picasso's paintings and drawings throughout."--Publishers Weekly
"At his best, he is, simply, brilliant. At his worst, he is also brilliant."--Kevin Jackson, Literary Review
"[T]hrilling. . . . Thus space becomes an arena for truth-telling after all: a conclusion with optimistic implications for the legacies we can still seek in 20th-century art if we explore, as Clark does with supreme insight, the meeting ground between art and politics."--Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times
"His prose is abundant with tantalising aphorisms and observations. Some are sparkling asides but more often they act as spurs that encourage us to look more closely and less complacently at Picasso's work. . . . The book's lavish production values make for excellent reproductions of the paintings, and its copious illustrations include many cropped details as well as an imaginative range of image comparisons. . . . [Clark] is rare, among contemporary art historians."--Thomas Marks, Daily Telegraph
Table of Contents:
Lecture 1 Object 23
Lecture 2 Room 59
Lecture 3 Window 111
Lecture 4 Monster 147
Lecture 5 Monument 191
Lecture 6 Mural 235
Photography and Copyright Credits 311
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by T. J. Clark: