Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pablo Picasso: Painter of light

With all due respect for the dead, forget Thomas Kincade.

Even Claude Monet might have to step aside.  The artist who was truly the "painter of light" might be Pablo Picasso. This comes from a 1949 article in LIFE magazine where LIFE's Gijon Mili visited Picasso in the south of France.  Mili was innovator in the use of light in art and show Picasso his work, including photographs of ice skaters with tiny lights attached, creating swirling and streaking patterns as the skaters and jumped and flipped and spiraled.

Picasso was so taken by these works of art that he engaged Mili in creations of his own.  As the article says of Picasso:

"By leaving the shutters open, he caught the light streaks swirling through space."
This series of photographs, known ever since as Picasso's "light drawings," were made with a small electric light in a darkened room; in effect, the images vanished as soon as they were created - and yet they still live, six decades later, in Mili's playful, hypnotic images."

What's more, the streaks of light still retained Picasso's notable style and as the article notes, could easily have passed as one of his canvas paintings.  These "light drawings" have a hypnotic quality to them, as you are sitting in the room with Picasso and watching the shapes take form as he zigs and zags the light through the air.
I'm always on the lookout for art composed via a new medium, especially if it is technologically oriented.  And this was.  It is tempting sometimes to overlook how innovative certain techniques of the past were for their time or to whinge that no one is coming up with anything new or original.
Perhaps we're just not looking hard enough.  

I'm certain someone else has already thought of this activity since it seems so obvious, but I would love to see the outcome of an artist or group of artists tossed into a room at random.  This room would have a handful of mundane items (take your pick) sitting about the floor and shelves.  The artist's task would be simple: make art out of what you find.

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