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The Acrobat, 1930 by Pablo Picasso

The spontaneous agility of the acrobat's body is an obvious model for the new plasticity of Picasso's developing biomorphism, pioneered by fellow Spaniard Joan Miro. However, Miro rejected Cubist space and used his neo-Neolithic shapes to define new spatial concepts of freedom, often without reference to human form. In contrast, Picasso's surreal explorations maintain some human identity.

Here, despite apparent freedom of movement, this figure is still trapped within the cube of the frame. It is also bound by the colours, which strangely imprison the motion of the body, as it is locked within a white form and then pinioned against the implied stasis of the black background. This is spatial contortion, the paradox of movement and rigidity.

One presumes the figure is male, although there is an androgyny. It is a rare interlude in a period when so many works are disfigurations of the female form. Often Surrealist works contain some sexual reference or punning, so possibly the weird, dangling phallic hand, similar to the pendulous penile limb formations of Woman in an Armchair (1929), is the joke. This globular phase soon died away as Picasso found a more lyrical energy by which to structure and project the human form.

Picasso's Masterpieces

  • The Old Guitarist
    The Old Guitarist
  • Guernica
    Guernica
  • Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
    Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
  • The Blue Nude
    The Blue Nude
  • Three Musicians
    Three Musicians
  • Girl Before a Mirror
    Girl Before a Mirror
  • the-dream
    The Dream
  • The Weeping Woman
    The Weeping Woman
  • Ma Jolie
    Ma Jolie
  • The Accordionist
    The Accordionist
  • Maya with her Doll
    Maya with her Doll
  • The Rape of Sabine Women
    The Rape of Sabine Women
  • Luncheon on the Grass
    Luncheon on the Grass
  • Dora Maar Au Chat
    Dora Maar Au Chat
  • Nude Green Leaves and Bust
    Nude Green Leaves and Bust
  • don-quixote
    Don Quixote