A Life in Art

Picasso’s Cat Before a Mirror

Picasso’s Cat Before A Mirror… You’d have an interesting time and very likely get lost, taking a hike through the mind of Pablo Picasso like this cat did. From Famous Artists’ Cats: The Book

By David Stone

No guarantee the experience would be pleasant; in fact, you could probably take for granted that mostly it wouldn’t be.  

Picasso was one of the most brilliantly creative artists who ever lived. From cubism to modernism, he was there at the creation of movements that might never have gotten off the ground if not energized by his talents.   

Pick out any painting by Georges Braque, Picasso’s co-inventor of cubism.

Look at it for a long time. Try convincing yourself Braque’s style so shook the art world that painting was forever revolutionized.   

What the pair did was create images on canvas that showed viewers what an object looked like from multiple angles and dimensions, all coalesced on a flat surface. When they could just as easily have painted flowers in a pretty glass jar.   

Pablo Picasso amazed, showing us the world in way we would never otherwise conceive it, expanding our awareness by altering space and time.

But for me, what really blew the lid off was when Picasso began slicing and dicing human psyches as if they were banjos and clown costumes. Not only did he aspire to give us a fuller picture on a single canvas, he did it with raw, honest insight into what makes each of us different from every other.  

First, Marie Therese saw herself, then Pablo Picasso’s Cat went to the mirror…

Picasso recreated our strengths and weaknesses, our pride and our fear… And so much more and got it all on one flat surface. Unlike the expressionists, Picasso’s pictures always looked like they might be about something recognizable.  

In Girl Before a Mirror, he portrays Marie Therese Walter, his young lover, pondering her own reflection. There are a million ways to interpret this painting. All might be right, but one constant is that the mirror reflection isn’t much like the girl standing before it.  

The Marie Therese that Picasso sees is soft and bright. The reflection she sees is dark, sad and even a little foreboding.

To me, it looks like she, at least in this moment, sees an ugliness about herself that defies the reality that others see. An alternative interpretation is that she is projecting herself as aging in an unattractive way.  

Cats know how beautiful they are and don’t get hung up on the vanity of it. Vanity implies doubt, right? Cats have no doubts.   

To complete Deborah Julian‘s Picasso’s Cat Before a Mirror, Sam had to climb a stool to get a look at himself in the mirror. Even projected into cubism, he seems pleased with what he sees.

Or he might be wondering who the beautiful cat behind the glass is.   

True to Picasso, he shows us himself from multiple angles, all at once.

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