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The Medieval Picasso

(LEFT) Cimabue - Crucifix (detail) - 1268-71 - Tempera on wood, 336 x 267 cm - (132.3 x 105.1 in) San Domenico, Arezzo - (RIGHT) Pablo Picasso, Farm Woman, 1908, Oil on canvas - 81 x 65.5 cm - (31.9 x 25.8 in) - The State Hermitage, Museum - St. Petersburg, Russia (click photo for larger image)

For those of us who are educators—it’s critical to instill in our students the great importance of the arts as a continuum. How do we guide others to connect the past to the present—and ultimately the future—in meaningful, resourceful ways? How do we drive home the point that much of the “traditional” in the arts was—at one time—“experimental”? Great artists over time have understood that the masters of the past are their mentors—their colleagues—their friends. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was an artist who was a sponge—meaning that he absorbed everything from the past, as well as from contemporaries, and incorporated those lessons into his own visual language. In this case, his inspiration was the last of the great Byzantine style painters—Cimabue (1240-1302)—who linear approach to art, combined with pathos—perfectly suited this particular phase in Picasso’s art.


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