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  • Stephen Shoel Wachtel

Picasso and Einstein

Updated: Apr 11, 2018


Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 95-1/8 x 91-1/8 inches, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Picasso is to art what Einstein is to physics and I have great respect for both men — Einstein because he developed novel ways to understand reality, and Picasso because he found novel ways to paint it. Neither man was limited by school or style. While working as a patent examiner in 1905, Einstein rocked the academic world with his Special Theory of Relativity and two years later, Picasso shattered conventional norms with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a huge cubist rendering of five naked prostitutes, faces patterned after primitive African masks.

Although Einstein’s contributions have changed the world we inhabit — literally — one is no less blown away by the breadth of Picasso’s creativity. He was the inventor of modern cubism yet he painted standard portraits and landscapes and posters, and his canvasses embraced fauvist, neoclassical, realist and surrealist themes, and more. He was a tireless and prolific worker, producing nearly 2000 paintings, hundreds of sculptures and ceramics, and thousands of prints. This was a towering genius, surely the greatest painter of the twentieth century and perhaps the greatest in human history.

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