Challenging the Past
National Gallery London, 9781857094527, 176pp.
Publication Date: May 12, 2009
From his earliest years Pablo Picasso was a passionate student of the European painting tradition. He was naturally drawn to the Spanish masters Velázquez and Goya, but such figures as Rembrandt, Delacroix, Ingres, Manet, and Cézanne were also important artistic heroes. Picasso repeatedly pitted himself against these masters, taking up their signature themes, techniques, and artistic concerns in audacious paintings of his own. Sometimes his “quotations” were direct, other times highly allusive. Always Picasso made the implicit case that it was he in the 20th century who most forcefully reinvigorated the European tradition.
Liberally illustrated with 150 full-color plates of works by Picasso and those who inspired him, the book showcases the technical dexterity, independence, and vitality of Picasso’s creative processes as he daringly transformed the art of the past into, as he described it, “something else entirely."
About the Author
Elizabeth Cowling is Professor Emeritus of History of Art at Edinburgh University. Her publications include Picasso: Style and Meaning and Degas/Picasso (distributed by Yale). Susan Grace Galassi is senior curator at the Frick Collection, New York. She is the author of Picasso’s Variations on the Masters. Christopher Riopelle is curator of post-1800 painting at the National Gallery, London. He is co-author of Renoir Landscapes: 1865-1883 (distributed by Yale), among many other books. Anne Robbins is assistant curator of post-1800 painting at the National Gallery, London, and the author of Cézanne in Britain (distributed by Yale).