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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.

Masterpieces of Pablo Picasso

  • Guernica
    Guernica
  • Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
    Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
  • The Old Guitarist
    The Old Guitarist
  • 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
  • The Charnel House
    The Charnel House
  • Head of a Woman Reading
    Head of a Woman Reading
  • Ma Jolie
    Ma Jolie
  • Portrait of Ambroise Vollard
    Portrait of Ambroise Vollard
  • Massacre in Korea
    Massacre in Korea
  • Maternity
    Maternity
  • Dora Maar Au Chat
    Dora Maar Au Chat
  • Seated Woman
    Seated Woman
  • Nude in a Black Chair
    Nude in a Black Chair
  • Jacqueline with flowers
    Jacqueline with flowers
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