A Picasso bestiary
Pablo Picasso was fascinated by animals and from his earliest years they played an important role in both his life and his work. Many of his most intriguing and stimulating creations represent beasts in all manner of guises, both serious and playful. A Picasso Bestiary is published to coincide with an exhibition held at Croydon in 1995, and like the show, it gathers together a thought-provoking selection of Picasso's animal works, grouped by subject: The Bull, The Horse and the Donkey, Birds, Cats and Dogs, Goats and Sheep, Watery Creatures, Insects, Monkeys and Monsters. This format was suggested by the structure of the mediaeval bestiary: a luxurious 'Book of Beasts' which described the wonders of the animal kingdom and explained their moral and spiritual significance. The stories the bestiary tells are based on fact and fancy, hearsay and precedence, and a comparable method has been adopted in this book: the weaving of tales around Picasso's animals and relating them to earlier themes and models in Western European art. Like many artists before him, Picasso recognised the way in which the visual representation of animals could invoke a whole range of reflections about life and death, food and sex and, importantly, his own creativity. This book therefore comprises two narratives, the one dealing with a tradition of animal representation, the other with Picasso. Their juxtaposition, together with a wealth of visual material, allows exciting patterns to emerge which demonstrate both how consistently certain long-established themes continue into Picasso's art, and how wilfully others are abandoned in favour of his own personal vision.
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Albert Museum Amsterdam animals Antibes Arnolfini Portrait artist author's transl Barber Barcelona beasts bestiary bird Bodleian Library Boisgeloup Brassai bull bull's head bullfight butterfly candle century Chapter Christ cock Collection Comte de Buffon Courtesy of Musee creatures Cubism DACS death depicted Devil doves drawing Edward Topsell engraving example eyes Faun female fish Gilot Girl goat Guernica Hegewisch Hendrick Goltzius Histoire Naturelle horse human ibid illustration Jacob Cats London M-L Bernadac Marina Picasso matador mediaeval Minotaur monkey monsters Musee Picasso Museo del Prado myth National Gallery nature oil on canvas OPPOSITE Oxford Pablo Pablo Picasso painter painting Paris MP Parmelin pencil on paper Penrose perhaps Photo RMN Physiologus Picasso Bestiary Picasso Estate Inv picture pigeons Portrait repr representation represented reproduced Rowland sacrifice satyr scene sculpture sexual sheep Still-life symbol theme Topsell Toreros Vallauris Victoria & Albert Vollard woman York