Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kiki Smith and Picasso

Picasso, Man with Lamb, 1943-44

Kiki Smith, Rapture, 2001

This has been a really inspiring week in terms of art. On Tuesday I went to a talk with Kiki Smith here at PAFA and yesterday I saw the Picasso show at the PMA. Both blew me away. Smith was so candid and connected, she said so many things I felt and needed to hear. She said as an artist you don't have to know what you are doing and defend it, you don't need a big idea sometimes you just need small ideas and you just need to continue to make things. She explained that her work has fallen apart and been stuck in a corner and needed to change and all the frustrations that I feel and tell myself are because I don't have a strong enough vision. She said the only thing that unites work is the fact that it is all made by her and made out of a need.
This felt so good to hear. It seems like right now, my critics, curators, the whole art world wants artists to know what they are making, what it is about, how it all relates and how it fits into the current fads. But after hearing Smith and seeing Picasso, I am reaffirmed that the work that lasts is made by artists out of a need and feeling about themselves and their world. They know as much as possible about art and their environment etc. and then they go make something that feels right, and curators figure out the why and how later.
Picasso went through so many styles and thoughts and experiments in his work, which wasn't even fully shown at the PMA show. The work that touched me most was his sculpture, Man with Lamb, right at the end of the show (which has to be seen in person). The expression and gesture of the man and lamb and the orientation of the viewer as the one to recieve this innocent sacrificial animal was truly heartbreaking. It was a return to the simple hand modeling of man and animal and it feels timeless and universally understood. I can see a direct relationship between this work and Smith's work, which too seems striped away and powerfully felt.


Kristin Osgood Lamelas said...

Hi Aubrey,

My name is Kristin. I'm in my final year of the Moore MFA in Studio Art. It's so good to read your posts because you (and Kiki) have the same fears, insecurities as me. I'm trying so hard to find my "voice", maybe I just have to allow it to find me.


Aubrey Levinthal said...

Hi Kristin,

Don't know how I didn't see this until now. Great to know I'm not alone! Hope your work is going well and thanks for reading!

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