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MICHAEL MACHERA: Picasso Canceled At His Own Show

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Michael Machera Contributor
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The infiltration of wokeness is hardly limited to education and the workplace. Unfortunately, the left has made inroads into the very fabric of our cultural life. There is no respite from an overbearing political correctness, not even in the quiet contemplation of art. 

You may have heard rumblings about Pablo Picasso’s supposed misogyny around the time of the 50th anniversary of his death. The Guardian called him a “monstrous misogynist” and “cultural appropriator.” That’s right — Picasso was being canceled. (RELATED: SUZANNE DOWNING: The ‘Woke Bubble’ Is About To Burst)

It should be no surprise, then, that the legendary Spanish artist was “canceled” at his own exhibition. It begs the question: why display his work only to denigrate him? That’s just what the Dallas Museum of Art did.

The exhibition is entitled “Picasso’s Muses: Between Inspiration and Obsession.” It has a description, both on the museum website and posted on the display, which pays tribute to Picasso’s great contribution to modern art. It then quickly pivots to giving the woke, feminist critique of Picasso:

“Picasso’s name and legacy are also undivorceable from the misogynistic or abusive behavior he demonstrated toward women.” 

What did Picasso do to deserve being called a misogynist on a placard for museum goers? He dated younger women, cheated on his wife—that kind of thing. Let’s say Picasso was a womanizer and not an ideal spouse. But it hardly puts him out of the mainstream of famous men who parlay their artistic success into romantic success. 

The placard continues to scold Picasso: 

“The artist was inspired by his lovers, who served as muses for his ever-changing style. These women were key to Picasso’s artistic success and fame, yet their contributions are often overlooked.”

Now we are apparently still allowed to engage with Picasso’s work, but in the context of finding it problematic. These leftist complaints are so bizarre that one is not quite sure how they might be mollified. Perhaps feminists resent that women were the subjects of Picasso’s art rather than the artists themselves. They might prefer if the women painted Picasso rather than the other way around.  

The Guardian article takes issue with Picasso explicitly as a White male, and wonders whether “a great artist could be any gender, any race.” It appears, at any rate, that the museum curators were keenly aware of this politically motivated reevaluation of Picasso and thought it wise to promptly agree with these critics. 

The sketches at the Dallas Museum of Art do not strike one as objectionable for reasons of misogyny or any other crime against political correctness. Rather, the works, which include “Woman in an Armchair Dreaming, Her Head Resting on Her Hand” (1934), give us a wonderful vantage point into Picasso’s innovative style. The sketches celebrate the female form, and in some cases, demonstrate Picasso’s abstract approach in which he depicted several perspectives in one image.  

Picasso threw himself into his art with abandon, and likewise threw himself into love with abandon. When he was 45, he met 17 year old Marie-Thérèse Walter, who would serve as Picasso’s muse and lover over many years, and would even bear him a daughter. He had a tumultuous personal life to go along with his mercurial artistic life. What more would we expect of a great artist? Certainly we cannot tolerate the legacy of such a great and prolific painter to be besmirched by such a group of malcontent nags.  

One may be tempted to say of the innovator of cubism and so many other artistic evolutions, “Separate the man from his art.” But this is not even necessary. We should keep the man and his art, and pay no heed to his bitter detractors. 

As the Dallas Museum of Art exhibit suggests, women were his muse. Women were both a subject and inspiration for Picasso. Picasso’s depiction of females can be viewed as a celebration of female beauty (though with his more abstract work, it might take a little imagination). His portraits of women are also replete with symbols of fertility, and in some cases, eroticism. Is that somehow morally wrong? (RELATED: STEFAN J. PADFIELD: Is Disney Complicit In Hate Speech?)

It’s true, Picasso had a “side chick,” and there was an age gap which could raise some eyebrows. Picasso scholars refer to him as “macho,” in the Mediterranean sense of the term. He was a philanderer, granted. By all means, this is fair game for biographers and scholars to discuss. But for the love of God, do not put a trigger warning on his exhibitions.

Michael Machera writes book reviews and opinion at Follow him on Twitter.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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