Ayanna and Creativity
Picasso was Correct

I was a teaching assistant in an art history class while I was still in college a half century ago.  It was there that I first learned the value of understanding the various art forms.  I love art history for many reasons.  It is interesting how it can explain world history from a different vantage point.  For the past two decades, I have taught various humanity classes.  However, art history is my favorite.  It functions as an academic umbrella, by which we can understand the other humanity courses. 

While my all-time favorite painting has been for years William Turner's, The Fighting Téméraire, Pablo Picasso is my favorite painter who explains for me artistic creativity the best.

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Picasso's insight

Picasso's complete quote about the seeming paradox about art is, "We all know that Art is not truth.  Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand.  The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies."

An example of an artistic lie is Picasso's Guernica.  Guernica was a small Basque town in northern Spain, which the Germans bombed during the Spanish Civil War.  That painting is filled with distortions of the actual historical facts regarding the effects of the bombing of Guernica.  For example, the fallen soldier who had been killed in the bombing did not have a stigmata on his hand as portrayed in the painting.  In addition, Picasso played with two art forms: painting and writing.  The Spanish word for lightbulb is closely related to the Spanish word for bomb.  Additionally, there was no dismembered arm and hand holding the light representing hope for peace adjacent to the bomb/light bulb.  Besides the many other symbols, Picasso was not even present in Guernica during the bombing.  Technically, Picasso lied to convey the truth of bombing of the Basque town. 

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William Turner lied also in his painting, The Fighting Téméraire.  

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The Fighting Téméraire

There are several lies in this painting also.  The Fighting Téméraire did not look like what Turner painted.  Its masts had been already cut down.  In fact, it was a hulk of what it once looked like.  In addition, it was not being tugged as the sun set that day.  Another discrepancy is that the sun is in the wrong place.  The sun was setting behind Turner and not in front of him as he painted this famous ship.  Turner did lie to express his disdain for towing the greatest ship of the British Navy to dry-dock where it would be cut up for kindling.

These two famous paintings employ artistic license, which means that truth can be distorted to make the artists' point.  It is also done in writing, which is called poetic license.  Shakespeare used poetic license when Mark Anthony said, "Friend, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears."  Grammatically, it is an incorrect.  The conjunction, and, needed to be placed before Countrymen.  This grammatical lie was used to retain the iambic pentameter of that line.

Granted, some people diss artistic or poetic license.  However, that is their problem.  Picasso along with all the other artists is correct, "Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand."

The other comment that Picasso made that I have quoted many times is about children.  He said, "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." 

Picasso is correct.  All children are creative.  However, the problem is that society over time interferes with the child's creative urge.  Ayanna, who is my oldest grandchild and is midway through college, started with this picture of herself over a dozen years ago as a child.  

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Then this drawing followed quickly. 

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Nowadays, Ayanna is expressing her creativity in many art forms.

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This painting looks like Jackson Pollock's style.

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Jackson Pollock