How Picasso the Sculptor Ruptured Art History

09-picasso-chair.w529.h352Jerry Saltz at New York Magazine:

We don’t think of Picasso as a sculptor, but we should. He was a great one. In the years after that summer with Braque, Picasso performed a vivisection of 500 years of Western spatial perspective. For much of the 19th century, artists like Constable, Corot, Courbet, Manet, and many others tried to break the rigid illusionistic strictures and the structure of vaunted Renaissance perspective. Yet no matter what artists did, including Monet — breaking down every brushstroke into a physical thing that functioned at once as a mark and a picture, each one being absolutely equal to every other stroke, all but doing away with illusionistic space altogether — still, the borders and surfaces of the object reasserted themselves. With collage and assemblage, Picasso finally jarred space from a kind of 500-year sleeping sickness, a system that had silted up, impeded, and confined vision. With these works, Picasso broke forever from Renaissance tradition into modernist, Einsteinian relativity, the paradoxical space where things exist in different dimensions at once. It’s important to remember, of course, that Renaissance perspective was maniacally practiced only in the West. In Asia, Africa, and most of the rest of the world, systematic illusionistic space never caught on. In the West, however, Picasso (and the others) set space free.

Now, for the first time since the Museum of Modern Art’s epic 1967 “The Sculpture of Picasso,” MoMA returns to this fertile delta with more than 150 of his slabbed, shattering, avian-shaped, hallucinogenically assembled sculptures. This is a fantastic show.

more here.