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Thursday 7 July 2011

The Passage of Time: Picasso and Cy Twombly

The first time I actually heard someone say ‘my five year old could do that’ was in Cadiz, at an exhibition of Picasso etchings. At the time Picasso was, to some degree, being reintroduced into Spain. He had after all refused to allow his Guernica painting to return while Franco was still alive and the Franco regime had responded as might be expected, roughly ‘Great painter, Bad Spaniard.’

There was some interest to see what had been missed. Evidently some visitors to that exhibition thought not a lot. Intrigued I looked at what they thought a five year old could do.

The etching was from a small group done in 1951 called La Partida, according to the notes inspired by a comic strip of Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. It is a medieval off to war and shows a knight on a horse, both in armour, accompanied by a page. Indeed the knight is more armour than person and the armour is vigorously rearranged into an absurd clank of pride and heraldry. The bit in the horse’s mouth imposes a kind of equine grin.

I could go on, but hope I have indicated enough to say I have never met a five year old, however delightful, who could do anything even remotely similar.

Of course, children change. I note from the many comments made on the late Cy Twombly’s work, that the phrase is now ‘Any six year old could do that.’

Leda and the Swan (at the top of this post) and Cycnus (above) both by Cy Twombly

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