monochrome picasso


The rap on Picasso during his lifetime and even today is that Matisse, not he, was the colorist. Picasso was the draftsman, the graphic master. (And, after all, who doesn’t love Matisse’s cosmic secret garden of color?) Ever competitive, Picasso regularly addressed the criticism himself: “Color weakens”; “I use the language of construction”; “If you don’t know what color to take, take black.” Picasso’s own dealer said he was “indifferent to … color.” I disagree, and concur with late MoMA curator and wild-man Picasso maniac, William Rubin, who crowed that Picasso was “one of the great colorists of the century.” Picasso is more of a hyena of color, rash, using it to reveal his animal-being, Yeats’s “terrible beauty,” omega points of form. For Picasso, black and white are colors, and so are the thousand shades of gray in between.

more from Jerry Saltz at New York Magazine here.