Tuesday, December 28, 2010


What do you think of Picasso? A lot of animation cartoonists don't like him because he was the inspiration for U.P.A., which indirectly wrecked traditional full animation.  He certainly planted the idea in the public's mind that anything representational, even cartooning, was obsolete and old-fashioned.

I like him because he was a cartoonist at heart, even though he tried to refashion cartooning into a purely graphic art.
He colored his pictures (above) the way newspaper comic artists colored theirs.....well, somewhat. It was more of a caricature of the way newspaper cartoons were colored.

I wonder if the picture above influenced the way Dedini used color?

Without Picasso we wouldn't have had Virgil Parch, Cliff Sterrett, and Steinberg. We wouldn't even have had Searle.

Thanks to Amid Amidi and The Modesto Kid for the Steinberg-type picture above.

This (above) is a better example of what I meant when I said Picasso was influenced by newspaper comic color. He even added the dot pattern that newspapers used.

Picasso had a great sense of humor.  The figure above is magnificently ignorant (I mean that as a compliment).  It's really goofy and funny.

Sometimes I can't believe that he managed to get critics to accept stuff as overtly cartoony as this (above).

Really, is it so hard to see the influence of cartooning on his work (above)?  The man was a cartoonist. He was one of us, though you could argue that he undermined cartoon art by abstracting it and removing it from acting and storytelling.

Picasso's mission seemed to be to liberate cartoon technique from cartoons. He seemed to think we cartoonists had a bag of tricks that was too valuable to be entrusted to us only. 

The man obviously read newspaper comics. It could be that he was influenced by Herriman and Sterrett, Opper and Fenninger, maybe even funny animal comics, and simply didn't admit it.  He may have had closets full of comic pages that were thrown out after his death by custodians who didn't think they were important. 

BTW, I'm aware that some readers are saying, "Wait a minute! Herriman was influenced by Picasso, not the other way around!" To that I say don't be so hasty.  My guess is that Herriman and Picasso influenced each other. 

So what do ya think?


Jorge Garrido said...

I can't dig futuristic cats like Picasso.

Ben Leeser said...

Picasso's work was silly, outrageous and distorted - everything a cartoon should be. It's a shame about that UPA business, though.

Michael Sporn said...

Picasso was a great fan of the comic strips. He was known to go to Gertrude's apartment and the two of them would go through the funny papers on Sundays.

There can be no doubt that he influenced some comic artists, and I assume he also was inspired by something in the strips.

Steven M. said...

I knew there was something more to Picasso then meets the eye. I always thought there was a hint of cartoon influence to his paintings.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! I've always liked Picasso as an artist, but I've never seen the majority of these paintings before anywhere, embarrassingly enough. From a technical standpoint, these are really stylish and well done, though extremely avant-garde and possibly artsy fartsy (depending on how you look at these) for the time period.

Glad to know that you're a Picasso fan yourself, Eddie, since I've never seen you talk about him on your blog before.

David Martingale said...

I've always thought of Picasso as a cartoonist too, and I remember reading in an art history text that he openly admitted the influence of comics in his work. He even made some "comic strips" of his own.

I like how you talk about how funny his paintings can be. I've always been bewildered by Guernica for that reason...It's supposed to be horrific, but to me it looks kinda goofy!

Craig said...

Picasso was a HUGE influence on my puppet making. Not specifically copying, but rather the implementation of the idea that anything is possible in design IF you are true to the rules that created it. Inside his frame was an hermetically sealed world where he, as Artist/God created a universe that bent to his will. This is essentially the same application I use for puppetry. Either the proscenium stage, or the camera frame, it is an opportoonity to put a unique vision front and center.
Picasso was also a comic strip artist. Or at least a storyboard one. Here is his most famous: "THE DREAM AND LIE OF FRANCO" http://www.galilean-library.org/images/david/DreamLieFranco1b.jpg

thomas said...

I think, maybe, what they share the most, is the idea of a mass art, which would have infatuated Picasso to cartoons. He would have wanted the audience that cartoons had.

DeKooning was an avid Krazy Kat reader.

The Modesto Kid said...

A lovely article by Amid Amidi on Picaso the Cartoonist.

Eric Noble said...

Very interesting. I can see your point. I think he simply focused on the graphic part of cartooning because that's what he was interested in. I actually like Picasso, because I believe graphic experimentation can liberate you and lead to new ideas.

Brubaker said...

As Michael pointed out, Picasso was a fan of comic strips, so his influence from them probably has some truth. He was, however, heavily influenced by African sculptures, which can be very abstract depending on the region.

It would surprise me if there are alot of cartoonists who dislikes Picasso. Granted, UPA is an acquired taste to many.

I always theorized that the rise in abstract art was indirectly because of the invention of photography. With the ability to photograph any point in life, I can imagine artists saying "what's the point of representational art?" It may not have been a direct influence, but the timing is pretty perfect (late 19th century).

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

FROM TONY: My daughter has a wonderful Maurice Kish painting called "Death of a Horse."Ever heard of it? On the back it says return to Maurice Kish. She wonders if it's real. She lives in Kerrville,Texas. What's the best search site for her?

Tony: I got the pictures I used from Google images and Wikipedia. Unfortunately I don't know much about the man. The pictures you mentioned here and in another comment sound interesting. Why not post them on a free Google document site or on Blogger?

thomas said...
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Rusty Spell said...

An article about Krazy Kat, which says that Picasso and Gertrude Stein liked it.

Aaronphilby said...

Well put. That makes a lot of sense.

thomas said...

My comment got chopped, and the link doesn't work.

A majority of what you've put up . E., is late Picasso.

His late "bad" style, from about the mid 50's onwards has received positive reaction from from the art world only pretty recently. There have been a couple of shows of the late period work thats drawn big crowds.
....who was a fan of Krazy Kat.

Then there's this guy

...who was a big fan of Krazy Kat.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts, Eddie. I've actually read somewhere that one of Virgil Partch's books was found on Picasso's bedside table the day he died (not sure if this is true, but can't see why someone would make it up).

Brian said...
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Joel Brinkerhoff said...

I do Like Picasso, even though it sounds like he was hard on wives and others. His styles are long ranging and he could do representation work if he wanted.

What I've always thought strange was the need of a model during his abstract period. It always makes me think of those comic scenes in film where the model is appalled by the finished canvas that is a colorful mess.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Craig: An interesting comic! I don't really like it because it abstracts comics to the point where they become meaningless. 50 years from now it'll rightly be considered as harmless fun, but right now, in our era, it plays into the hands of nihilistic people who believe in destroying old forms just to enjoy the fire.

Craig said...

I think the comic carried with it much angry energy about Franco, but it is very hard to find the narrative (like one can in Guernica.)
One time I was at MOMA looking at a Picasso Painting I always wanted to see in person (Women In Front Of Mirror). A masterpiece of reconstructed form. As I was silently making my worshipfulness, a tourist voice from behind me pipes up "What a sick bastid!!!" I had to laugh, because we both were right!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Craig: An interesting comic! I don't really like it because it abstracts comics to the point where they become meaningless. 50 years from now it'll rightly be considered as harmless fun, but right now, in our era, it plays into the hands of nihilistic people who believe in destroying old forms just to enjoy the fire.

Rusty: Fascinating! Krazy Kat preceded surrealism and may have influenced Picasso more than Picasso influenced it.

Thomas: His later "Heroic" period has been celebrated in print for years. I think that and his Guernica years represents his best work.

I'm not a fan of his early work. Cubism was an interesting novelty but you can only go so far with it. Cezanne deserves equal credit for it. Picasso's blue and rose periods are terrible, and the representational pictures he did when young are cold and mostly pointless. It took Picasso a long time to find himself.

His interesting period for me begins with the young women of Avignon.

Joel: It seems strange, I know, but I can understand why having a live model would provoke him to new insight.

Have you ever been in a figure drawing class and realized that your best work was always provoked by just a couple of models? Imagine how fast you'd have made discoveries if you could have afforded to hire models that really challenged you, with poses that were delberately done to take advantage of your own unique talents and interests.

thomas said...

Well, Picasso's late period is usually thought of as anti - heroic, because its a parody of himself, and Western art in general; especially when he started doing versions of famous old master paintings. That's why they're so cartoony.
There was a phase in the late 70's called Bad Painting, and Neo- Expressionism in the early 80's where this late Picasso work was talked about. It took for a post modern sensibility to take hold, around this time, before it was taken seriously. it kind of runs against the grain of the high modernism of the 50's and 60's, because it wasn't "serious".

Demoiselles de Avignon is from 1907.

Great info on Gertrude and Picasso poring over the funnies!

great post E!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Thomas: Son of a Gun! I didn't know the Avignon painting was done that early. I also didn't know that Picasso's heroic period was considered unappealing and anti-heroic by some critics. I like it myself.

thomas said...

Well, you can look at being anti - heroic as a kind of heroism.

That link I posted has quite a few examples of late Picasso, and installation views of the exhibit. I think you're right making a connection between Demoiselles and the late period work. The connection's not usually made.

He showed D of A to some fellow artists, and the reaction was so negative that it wasn't exhibited until many years later.

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Pablo Picasso is one of my favorites, along with Salvador Dali. He's a wonderful artist with the craziest and bizarre ideas.

Sure they were a bit graphic and flat, but they were still amazing to look at. His paintings entertained me as a kid when my mom would take me to the museums.

Brian said...
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FriedMilk said...

Thank you for saying it! I've sat through so many art classes, looking at Picasso slides, KNOWING that the guy was so OBVIOUSLY influenced by comics...but if I said anything I felt like William Shatner in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"


So many of his Cubist portraits are fun and graphic and hilarious, but we'd be sitting there talking about how his friend killed himself and that inspired him to paint sad blue clowns. Or discussing the screaming horse in Guernica. High art is very serious, after all.

David Germain said...

I have read that Picasso did get much inspiration from cartoons. It certainly shows.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Andrea: Wow! Nice Hockney video! I noticed others on the sidebar and I'll try out some of those, too. Thanks!