Both Solomon in Ecclesiastes and Picasso in his painting had an obsession with the issue of their impending death!!!
Picasso in the movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Pablo Picasso worked up until the day he died at age 91; literally painting till 3 am on Sunday, April 8th, which was just hours before his death.
His last well known self-portriat was done a little less than a year before his death, entitled Self Portrait Facing Death (June 30, 1972).
The piece is done with crayon on paper, and took several months to complete. A friend, Pierre Daix, tells of his memory of the piece on a visit to Picasso, “[Picasso] held the drawing beside his face to show that the expression of fear was a contrivance.” Then on another visit 3 months later, Pierre recalled that the harsh colored lines were even deeper, and Pierre writes, “He did not blink. I had the sudden impression that he was staring his own death in the face, like a good Spaniard”
There is much comentary about this piece. People talk about the fear of death Picasso had and how terrified his eyes look. They comment on the deep lines of age, and the work symbolizing Picasso’s confrontation of death.
Interestingly, as I researched this post I found a complete catolgue of Picasso’s works, in sequential order. It appears that just days prior and days after the piece above, he did several other self portraits.
I’m placing them in order, and wonder if there is a comment in the progression, I certainly feel there is a change with each. Below, copyright Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, are Self Portrait (June 28, 1972), Self Portrait (July 2, 1972), and Self Portrait (July 3, 1972)
In all his works through the next months before his death, I saw no further self portraits, these above were done in a burst, as if when done with these, he was done contemplating self and death.
Picasso’s death itself was sudden, waking on the morning of the 8th with an inabilty to get out of bed, calling for his wife, and dying 10 mins later. His cause of death was likely a heart attack with complications from heart failure.
I am happy to have stummbled upon the other portraits, giving us different glimpses of the idea of himself. Having such different works done in such a short time, gives testament to the complexity of all of our own self concepts. Just as I see the feelings of chaos, fear and acceptance in the works above, my own patients contemplating death can bounce from chaos, fear and acceptance sometimes in the span of a few hours.
References and more reading on the title piece:
*And special thanks to Karen Faught for alerting me to this piece
|“Love the sort of Van Goh poster”
a.k.a “The title card is too simple (not that I’m complaining)”
While vacationing in Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams), Hollywood screenwriter Gil (Owen Wilson) falls in love with the city and dreams of, in his opinion, its golden age in the 1920s. Drunk and lost on his way back to his hotel, the city clock strikes 12 and Gil rides a vintage car to the era he loves in the city he adores. That’s when the rest of the movie begins, the romance flourishes, and the smiles chime in.
|“A scene to tease and to deceive. Why? Watch.”
a.k.a. “A kiss is always a good start to a movie”
Like Before Sunrise (also a love story set in Europe) or Vicky Cristina Barcelona (also written and directed by Woody Allen, but less whimsical than this one), the movie carries the same tone all three movies share—very spontaneous and carefree. But while it’s a love story on many levels, it’s also a fantasy adventure, kind of a time-traveling, self-reflection story of a guy who seeks more in life.
|“I said “more in life”. not more girls in life” a.k.a “Owen is one lucky guy”
(left: with Marion Cotillard); right: with Lea Seydoux)
Part of the mystique is having world-renowned artists and literary giants portrayed by current actors. If you paid attention during your art and literature classes, you’ll spot them easily and get their drift and the narrative slightly better than those who flunked the subject.
I love how all the movie’s themes cut across time, also proving that old school can still be relevant in this day and age. Plus, to be so taken by the breathtaking sights of Paris—spectacular yet not very tourist-y, as Allen captured it—is always a pleasure. The film’s premise and story is simple but profound, yet such a breeze to watch. And if you don’t take with you romance or lessons, you should have at least bagged a good, genuine smile.
Midnight in Paris gets a seven-point-five out of ten for giving us a very timeless upgrade: romance with a hint of modern and a dash of nostalgia in the city of love.
You don’t have to be an art lover to know the name Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). But few would think to associate a Harlequin-esque character with the cubist legend.
The character of “Harlequin” shows up in a countless number of Picasso’s paintings (especially his Rose Period) and became the ideal personality onto which he could project his ponderings of life and death. One of the most powerful paintings of Harlequin is Death of Harlequin (1905), which shows a somber funeral scene after the entertainer’s death.
Why choose to work through Harlequin? He is, after all, a character who had no resemblance to the painter himself. The physical traits of Harelquin are far from discreet: his face eclipsed in white, while his body constantly overwhelmed by the gaudiness of his clothes. As far as we know, Picasso was never seen running around in a 15th century romper.
“Why choose to work through Harlequin? He is, after all, a character who had no resemblance to the painter himself.”
There are endless academic and arty ponderings as to why Picasso chose to paint Harlequin in his tableaux. A mythological perspective notes that Harlequin was “a mysterious character with classical origins,” who “had long been associated with the god Mercury and with Alchemy and the Underworld.” Perhaps Picasso was drawn to Harlequin for the dark undertones of the character’s peppy visage – it presented an opportunity for him to explore a harsh duality.
According the Met Museum, “Picasso has revealed the private sadness behind the public face of [Harlequin],” through “an interpretation that has greater resonance when one considers that the artist often regarded his clowns as representations of his alter ego.” In a way, Picasso played a similar role to Harlequin; he was never an entertainer per-se, but was expected to perform on a certain level as an artist for the public.
Death of Harlequin could very well show the exhaustion Picasso felt from such pressure. The image of Harlequin reclined in his garb, but also succumbed to death, represents the metaphorical death Picasso’s inspiration from time to time. With the constant pressure to “perform” well as a painter, it becomes easier to see the empathy Picasso could have felt with clowns like Harlequin. Another piece of information worth noting, says the Met, is the fact that Picasso was quite depressed at the time he painted Death of Harlequin, as his dear friend Carlos Casagemas had just committed suicide.
“As far as we know, Picasso was never seen running around in a 15th century romper.”
The tone of the painting is a bit undecided, walking the line between sadness and tranquility; helplessness and relief in the face of death. Harlequin and his mourners are bathed in white halos that seem to extend from their own face paint. The viewer doesn’t even see the legs of the table Harlequin is placed upon; instead he seems to float upon a cool, white portion of Picasso’s under-painting. Is Harlequin experiencing a peaceful death? Is he filled with regret after a life of tireless performance, or fulfillment? The wonderful thing about the work is, perhaps, its malleability: depending on our own mood, we can see a man reposed in peace, or surrendered to a life – and inspiration — exhausted.
What do you see in the face of Harlequin? We look forward to your comments below.
Related SevenPonds Posts:
20th Century Artist: Pablo Picasso
Title and Year: Death of Casagemas, 1901
Size: 27cm x 35cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Collection: Musée Picasso, Paris, France
Subject: Portraits, Male Portraits, Self Portraits
This deathbed painting of Carlos Casagemas is an intimate portrait of a friend that committed suicide over a lover. Casagemas also appears in the melancholy La Vie painting of 1903.
The thick, expressive brushstrokes and complimentary colors are reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh.
Francis Schaeffer comments on the Book of Ecclesiastes and the subject of death:
11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.
Chance rules. If a man starts out only from himself and works outward it must eventually if he is consistent seem so that only chance rules and naturally in such a setting you can not expect him to have anything else but finally a hate of life.
17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. 18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun…
That first great cry “So I hated life.” Naturally if you hate life you long for death and you find him saying this in Ecclesiastes 4:2-3:
2 And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. 3 But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
He lays down an order. It is best never have to been. It is better to be dead, and worse to be alive. But like all men and one could think of the face of Vincent Van Gogh in his final paintings as he came to hate life and you watch something die in his self portraits, the dilemma is double because as one is consistent and one sees life as a game of chance, one must come in a way to hate life. Yet at the same time men never get beyond the fear to die. Solomon didn’t either. So you find him in saying this.
14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.
The Hebrew is stronger than this and it says “it happens EVEN TO ME,” Solomon on the throne, Solomon the universal man. EVEN TO ME, even to Solomon.
18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.[n] 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?
What he is saying is as far as the eyes are concerned everything grinds to a stop at death.
16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
That is true. There is no place better to feel this than here in Switzerland. You can walk over these hills and men have walked over these hills for at least 4000 years and when do you know when you have passed their graves or who cares? It doesn’t have to be 4000 years ago. Visit a cemetery and look at the tombstones from 40 years ago. Just feel it. IS THIS ALL THERE IS? You can almost see Solomon shrugging his shoulders.
8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it. (King James Version)
A remarkable two phrase. THERE IS NO DISCHARGE IN THAT WAR or you can translate it “no casting of weapons in that war.” Some wars they come to the end. Even the THIRTY YEARS WAR (1618-1648) finally finished, but this is a war where there is no casting of weapons and putting down the shield because all men fight this battle and one day lose. But more than this he adds, WICKEDNESS WON’T DELIVER YOU FROM THAT FIGHT. Wickedness delivers men from many things, from tedium in a strange city for example. But wickedness won’t deliver you from this war. It isn’t that kind of war. More than this he finally casts death in the world of chance.
The Art History Archive – Cubism
The Most Famous Artist of the 20th Century
Biography by Charles Moffat.
Full Name: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso
Born October 25, 1881 – Died April 8, 1973.
“Everyone wants to understand art. Why don’t we try to understand the song of a bird? Why do we love the night, the flowers, everything around us, without trying to understand them? But in the case of a painting, people think they have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necessity, that he himself is only an insignificant part of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world though we can’t explain them; people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.” – Picasso
After WWII, The Late Works: 1946-1973
In 1944, after the liberation of Paris, Picasso joined the Communist Party and became an active participant of the Peace Movement. In 1949, the Paris World Peace Conference adopted a dove created by Picasso as the official symbol of the various peace movements. The USSR awarded Picasso the International Stalin Peace Prize twice, once in 1950 and for the second time in 1961 (by this time, the award had been renamed the International Lenin Peace Prize, as a result of destalinization) . He protested against the American intervention in Korea and against the Soviet occupation of Hungary. In his public life, he always expressed humanitarian views.
After WWII, Françoise gave birth to two children: Claude (1947) and Paloma (1949). Paloma is the Spanish word for “dove” — the girl was named after the peace symbol.
Picasso would not settle down, and more women would come into his life, some coming and going, like Sylvette David; and some staying longer, like Jacqueline Rogue. Picasso would remain sexually active and seeking throughout most of his life; it wasn’t that he was looking for something better than what he had had previously; the artist had a passion for the new and untried, evident in his travels, his art and, of course, his women. For him, it was a way of staying young.
In the summer of 1955, Picasso bought “La Californie”, a large villa near Cannes. From his studio, he had a view of the enormous garden, which he filled with his sculptures. The south and the Mediterranean were just right for his mentality; they reminded of Barcelona, his childhood and youth. There, he painted “Studio ‘La Californie’ at Cannes” (1956) and Jacqueline in the Studio (1956). By 1958, however “La Californie” had become a tourist attraction. There had been a constantly increasing stream of admirers and of people trying to catch a glimpse of the painter at his work, and Picasso, who disliked public attention, chose to move house. Picasso bought the Chateau Vauvenargues, near Aix-en-Provence, and this was reflected in his art with an increasing reduction of his range of colors to black, white and green.
The mass media turned Picasso into a celebrity, and the public deprived him of privacy and wanted to know his every step, but his later art was given very little attention and was regarded as no more than the hobby of an aging genius who could do nothing but talk about himself in his pictures. Picasso’s late works are an expression of his final refusal to fit into categories. He did whatever he wanted in art and did not arouse a word of criticism.
With his adaptation of “Las Meninas” by Velászquez and his experiments with Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, was Picasso still trying to discover something new, or was he just laughing at the public, its stupidity and its inability to see the obvious.
A number of elements had become characteristic in his art of this period: Picasso’s use of simplified imagery, the way he let the unpainted canvas shine through, his emphatic use of lines, and the vagueness of the subject. In 1956, the artist would comment, referring to some schoolchildren: “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.”
In the last years of his life, painting became an obsession with Picasso, and he would date each picture with absolute precision, thus creating a vast amount of similar paintings — as if attempting to crystallize individual moments of time, but knowing that, in the end, everything would be in vain.
The movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS offers many of the same themes we see in Ecclesiastes. The second post looked at the question: WAS THERE EVER A GOLDEN AGE AND DID THE MOST TALENTED UNIVERSAL MEN OF THAT TIME FIND TRUE SATISFACTION DURING IT?
In the third post in this series we discover in Ecclesiastes that man UNDER THE SUN finds himself caught in the never ending cycle of birth and death. The SURREALISTS make a leap into the area of nonreason in order to get out of this cycle and that is why the scene in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Luis Bunuel works so well!!!! These surrealists look to the area of their dreams to find a meaning for their lives and their break with reality is only because they know that they can’t find a rational meaning in life without God in the picture.
The fourth post looks at the solution of WINE, WOMEN AND SONG and the fifth and sixth posts look at the solution T.S.Eliot found in the Christian Faith and how he left his fragmented message of pessimism behind. In the seventh post the SURREALISTS say that time and chance is all we have but how can that explain love or art and the hunger for God? The eighth post looks at the subject of DEATH both in Ecclesiastes and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. In the ninth post we look at the nihilistic worldview of Woody Allen and why he keeps putting suicides into his films.
In the tenth post I show how Woody Allen pokes fun at the brilliant thinkers of this world and how King Solomon did the same thing 3000 years ago. In the eleventh post I point out how many of Woody Allen’s liberal political views come a lack of understanding of the sinful nature of man and where it originated. In the twelfth post I look at the mannishness of man and vacuum in his heart that can only be satisfied by a relationship with God.
In the thirteenth post we look at the life of Ernest Hemingway as pictured in MIDNIGHT AND PARIS and relate it to the change of outlook he had on life as the years passed. In the fourteenth post we look at Hemingway’s idea of Paris being a movable feast. The fifteenth and sixteenth posts both compare Hemingway’s statement, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know…” with Ecclesiastes 2:18 “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” The seventeenth post looks at these words Woody Allen put into Hemingway’s mouth, “We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all.”
In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Hemingway and Gil Pender talk about their literary idol Mark Twain and the eighteenth post is summed up nicely by Kris Hemphill‘swords, “Both Twain and [King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes] voice questions our souls long to have answered: Where does one find enduring meaning, life purpose, and sustainable joy, and why do so few seem to find it? The nineteenth post looks at the tension felt both in the life of Gil Pender (written by Woody Allen) in the movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and in Mark Twain’s life and that is when an atheist says he wants to scoff at the idea THAT WE WERE PUT HERE FOR A PURPOSE but he must stay face the reality of Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” and THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING! Therefore, the secular view that there is no such thing as love or purpose looks implausible. The twentieth post examines how Mark Twain discovered just like King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes that there is no explanation for the suffering and injustice that occurs in life UNDER THE SUN. Solomon actually brought God back into the picture in the last chapter and he looked ABOVE THE SUN for the books to be balanced and for the tears to be wiped away.
The twenty-first post looks at the words of King Solomon, Woody Allen and Mark Twain that without God in the picture our lives UNDER THE SUN will accomplish nothing that lasts. The twenty-second post looks at King Solomon’s experiment 3000 years that proved that luxuries can’t bring satisfaction to one’s life but we have seen this proven over and over through the ages. Mark Twain lampooned the rich in his book “The Gilded Age” and he discussed get rich quick fever, but Sam Clemens loved money and the comfort and luxuries it could buy. Likewise Scott Fitzgerald was very successful in the 1920’s after his publication of THE GREAT GATSBY and lived a lavish lifestyle until his death in 1940 as a result of alcoholism.
In the twenty-third post we look at Mark Twain’s statement that people should either commit suicide or stay drunk if they are “demonstrably wise” and want to “keep their reasoning faculties.” We actually see this play out in the film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with the character Zelda Fitzgerald. In the twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth posts I look at Mark Twain and the issue of racism. In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS we see the difference between the attitudes concerning race in 1925 Paris and the rest of the world.
The twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth posts are summing up Mark Twain. In the 29th post we ask did MIDNIGHT IN PARIS accurately portray Hemingway’s personality and outlook on life? and in the 30th post the life and views of Hemingway are summed up.
In the 31st post we will observe that just like Solomon Picasso slept with many women. Solomon actually slept with over 1000 women ( Eccl 2:8, I Kings 11:3), and both men ended their lives bitter against all women and in the 32nd post we look at what happened to these former lovers of Picasso. In the 33rd post we see that Picasso deliberately painted his secular worldview of fragmentation on his canvas but he could not live with the loss of humanness and he reverted back at crucial points and painted those he loved with all his genius and with all their humanness!!! In the 34th post we notice that both Solomon in Ecclesiastes and Picasso in his painting had an obsession with the issue of their impending death!!!