20th Century Artist: Pablo
Title and Year: Les Demoiselles d'Avignon or The Young Ladies of Avignon or The Brothel of Avignon, 1907
Size: 243.9cm x 233.7cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Collection: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, United States of America
Subject: Woman Portraits, Nudes
"With its hacked contours, staring interrogatory eyes, and general feeling of instability, Les Demoiselles is still a disturbing painting after three quarters of a century, a refutationof the idea that the surprise of art, like the surprise of fasion, must necessarily wear off. No painting ever looked more convulsive. None signalled a faster change in the history of art. Yet it was anchored in tradition, and its attack on the eye would never have been so startling if its format had not been that of the classical nude; the three figures at the left are a distant but unmistakable echo of that favourite image of the late Renaissance, the Three Graces. Picasso began it in the year Cezanne died, 1906, and its nearest ancestor seems to have been Cezanne's monumental composition of the bathers displaying their blockish, angular bodies beneath arching trees. Its other line of descent in Picasso's Spanish heritage. The bodies of the two caryatid-like standing nudes, and to a lesser degree their neaighbour on the right, twist like El Greco's figures. And the angular, harshly lit blue space between them closely resembles the drapery in El Greco's Dumbarton Oaks Visitation."
Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New, p21. London: Thames & Hudson 1991