My perverted love of art critics

WIthout art critics we would be lost: we wouldn’t know what to think and feel. We would grossly misinterpret life, the universe, and everything. We would descend into a nightmare of conflict, debate, and beating each other on the heads with precious works of art.

If you’ve spent some time reading this blog, you might be under the impression that I don’t like the Modern Art Critic. No. I adore their word-juggling tribe, for how would I know the truth without them?

They make my life so much easier. I take their view, and then negate it to arrive to the truth. It is much like drawing through the use of negative space. In terms of showing whiteness, it is better to draw a grey background without the white cup (right side) than a realistic white cup (left side) that looks dull grey.


Look at this nude by Picasso. He is 87, his model, and wife is 42.

Nude Woman with Necklace 1968
Nude Woman with Necklace 1968 by Pablo Picasso

This is what a Tate art critic sees in this work:

“Picasso made this painting in a single day, just before his eighty-seventh birthday, when he was beating off old age with urgent, angry brushstrokes. The energy pours out of this massive female figure. She’s a living landscape, a life force, a human mountain range, with a river gushing from between her legs, a gust of wind erupting from her backside, and an explosion of white spray rising up behind her to join the clouds. Yet she’s many other things as well. She’s an ancient green goddess, whose mask face looks both at and beyond us; she’s an exotic bejewelled concubine, baring all and toying with her breast as she lounges flatulently on cushions of red and gold; and she’s also Picasso’s wife Jacqueline, whom he both worshipped and resented for her youth and beauty. I can never decide whether her expression is ferociously defiant or heart-wrenchingly vulnerable.”

And this is what really happened:

Pablo was furious that morning. Last night, he failed. He loved, he adored that woman. Her skin, her toes, her knees, her smell, her eyes, and yet he failed to satisfy her. He could read it in her eyes: a bit of contempt, a bit of pity.

In fact, she adored him, she used to say openly he was a God. There was no pity or contempt, just love and compassion, but Pablo couldn’t see it, for his mind was clouded by guilt that he transformed into rage.

So, he decided to rape her, screw her really hard, no-holes-barred, by painting her.

It had to be done in one day, for it was more an act of rape than a work of art.

“I can’t do you”, thought Pablo, “because you are ugly, not because you’re forbidding. I’ll expose your impregnability through comparing you to a spiky mountain ridge (Pablo compared the shapes of women to slowly rolling hills many times before), but I’ll open up all your caves and I’ll make you cum and fart, and all the more so against the soft red velvet”.

I wonder if Picasso would be climbing mountains were he not able to paint…

Picasso loved to create conflict through pairing red and blue when painting women. He assumed (rightly so) that it brings out the concept of passion in a rather obvious way, ever since the Renaissance days, when Mary was usually dressed in blue and red robes (even though those were not meant to communicate any sexual passion, of course).

He thought his wife’s body ugliness could justify his failure. He even cut down a few fingers and toes off her hands and feet (and normally he was very particular about toes).

“Do you like it now?” thought Pablo as he painted erect nipples. “Your face may be impassioned, but your vagina says it all! Stop pretending you don’t care or don’t like it! I can see it in the way your eye-lashes quiver (and he added the eye-lashes). I can see it in the sweat running down your cheek!”

Yet, Pablo’s love kicked in. His energetic brushstrokes with which he was painting the body transformed into tender pastel-like shades and lines as he was modelling the face. The lines with which the face is done are smooth, tender, and very differently to everything else.

The face was probably the last patch Picasso did. Most of his fury went up in the steam of painting the body.

He forgave himself when he painted the face: it is the face of a woman wronged, but loved. albeit cruelly.

It is not his wife’s real face: in a way, it is Picasso’s face as if reflected off his wife.

This is why its expression simply can’t be “ferociously defiant or heart-wrenchingly vulnerable”. The lines wouldn’t be so smooth.

P.S, My story is a bit of a far-sighted joke, but that doesn’t atone for the Tate critic’s shortsightedness.


  1. Another great post! Your jokes are never just funny as your serious stuff is never just serious 🙂 Along with everything else, I would add that Picasso here painted his resentment towards his own mortality. The angst of a titanic spirit trapped in a decaying body.

  2. Great post and lovely pics this is beautiful I really enjoyed your far-sighted joke , thanks

    just few words now :

    VANDALS. A few days ago I read that in Ronchamp in France, one of the most important works of the architecture of the ‘900, a masterpiece of the architect Le Corbusier, suffered a serious act of vandalism: between 16 and January 17, 2014, someone broke through a window of the chapel of Notre-Dame du Haut, after the failed attempt to enter the front door, forcing it and damaging it. In my small way I would give my modest contribution to stigmatize the sad event. if you have time try to see this video:

    original photographs by mario caruso. music ,C minor blues of Modern Jazz Quartet , and adagio for strings by Samuel Barber.Great post and lovely pics This is beautiful I really enjoyed the
    full screen reccomended , I would be pleased to receive your comments . thank you .

  3. I often wonder whether Picasso et al are sitting up there pissing themselves about the deep and meaningful truths critics attribute to their work: whether they’re saying, ‘You’re kidding, right? I was doodling while I thought what I’d like for dinner.’

    1. The funny thing is that in my experience with living artists they often say, “I was spontaneously doodling”, but when I start digging them with projective questions, it turns out there was a deep thought or feeling they were trying to express without consciously registering they were doing it. I guess the same holds true for artists talking to whom would require a medium’s assistance ))

  4. Art critics are like any other form of authority. I’m open to listening to their information, but ultimately, I am in charge of forming and deciding my own opinions.

    And for me, the subjectivity and multiple interpretations are a large part of arts “intrigue”. I know it sounds unrealistic or hopelessly romantic, but personally, I love when an artist doesn’t reveal their intent.

    I prefer when an artwork is forced to “stand on its own” and not rely on someone else’s interpretation. I know it may sound immature, but I love when an artwork retains a sense of “mystery” … and our own perceptions are allowed to create the narrative.

    Maybe it is kind of like the parallel of a book becoming a movie … the director’s interpretation can sometimes override my original reading experience.

    Okay … enough of me … maybe I’m just babbling now (haha).

    1. I absolutely enjoyed everything you’ve written – so no, it is not babbling ) We are in many ways the same, and in some ways different. I’d love to come back to this a bit later – weekend duties take me out of home right now. Talk to you soon!

    2. I believe a good interpretation allows the observer to continue asking question and finding answers. A great interpretation should never be exhaustive, it should be just a stimulus. So, yes, to update your quote with my view, “interpretations should be a large part of arts “intrigue”.

      I am not sure that “standing on its own” is often possible for an artwork nowadays. The greatest artworks are the ones that spark debate, and form opinions: inevitably we get “commentary” following and shaping our perceptions. In some cases, when a relatively abstract artwork produces clear philosophical generalisations it can be good, in some cases, it is just confusing ))

      I am sure though that people can be helped along the path of learning to create their own interpretations; and not just learning to interpret, but learning to enjoy the process of interpretation, and understanding. So, yes, sometimes for instance, my “movie” can override the reader’s initial interpretation, but there is an endless supply of artworks to keep exploring on your own – that’s way I am not afraid to be subjective (even though I try to steer closer to conclusions that can be reasonably proven )

      Thanks again – your comment sent me thinking ))

      1. I really enjoyed your responses. I read your article and responses a few times so I could absorb in multiple ways.

        While studying as an educator, one instructor said he liked to continually update his personal definitions of “education” and “art” for himself. I appreciate your dialogue and your blog because it continually helps me explore, build and grow my own personal definitions.

        On a side note, my instructor loved challenging himself and other confidants … one of his latest personal definitions was “education is confusion” … and he was drawn to the saying “teaching is not telling.”

        Thank you.

        1. Thank YOU for saying this. I am totally behind “teaching is not telling”, though I am yet to cover some ground before I can take, “education is confusion” )))

          If you’ve not seen my last post on Matisse, I am sure you will like it: What you do drawing with your daughter, is something Matisse wanted everyone to be doing ))

    1. I can enjoy this Nude intellectually, but it does not resonate with me emotionally. Yet, this is a complicated painting telling a compelling story of love, passion, age, and commitment. It makes me reflect on other people’s lives and, while its plot-line is as distant from my personal world as Crime and Punishment, I don’t want to reject the pleasure of “reading” it. ) Art is subjective, but a good book is still a good book )

      1. Picasso may have been painting out his frustrations, but I much prefer the beauty of a Renoir. What would you rather have in your living room?

        1. That’s a tricky question, because I don’t really need a dramatic intellectual stimulation in my living room. I go to galleries to get it. So, I’d have neither, because my concept of serenity gravitates towards Matisse, rather than Renoir )

  5. I enjoyed your commentary and example of interpretations.

    You’ve made an excellent point regarding any power structure imposing their perceptions on others.

    Sometimes, when our “emperors” are marching forward with their “truths”, one needs to boldly reveal our contrasting views.

    1. When I was young, I was certain a clever thought would always grow through the concrete pavement of stupidity, breaking it along the way to the sun. I am not that sure in it any more ))

      thank you for reading this – and more over – thank you for saying why you like it!

It would be grand to hear from you now!

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