88, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

88, 2009-09, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, oil on panel, 58 x 90″ (148 x 228cm) (detail)

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is Picasso’s portrait of his own preoccupation with Eros and Thanatos. Here is transfiguration of the original picture into a realistic domain, where hopefully some original motifs become apparent in a different way. From one of the many preliminary sketches for Picasso’s final painting, I restored for inclusion in this piece a window, which was an unfortunate omission from his finished work, since it has been thought by some scholars that the explanation for the disturbing physiognomies of the two right-most subjects is that, during his time working on the painting, Picasso had been horrified by the cases of congenital syphilis in children he saw around this time at a private tour of Saint-Lazare Prison Hospital in Paris– the medical term for the characteristic gaping facial disfigurement that afflicts its sufferers is fenestration, which is derived from the Latin fenestra, meaning window. In this version it seemed important to present decayed fruit, fenestrated also, because of its implications of fecundity and determinism. A window also supports the main idea of the piece because it is a metaphor for revelation– we are revealed the contents of Picasso’s mind, from the inside looking out, the demoiselles and apotropaic masks looking inward toward the artist’s homunculus.