Picasso and the relevance of beauty in his art

Picasso said he wasn’t always trying to make a work that was beautiful– his focus was sometimes on other qualities and things–, and he considered the expected cliched commentaries about the work’s beauty, or lack thereof, to be missing the point.

Many of his cubist works were trying to depict three dimensions in a two dimensional plane– an aesthetic and philosophical dilemma that, really, exists in all two dimensional artworks. Some of his cubist works tried to depict the passage of time in a still image– another interesting and unsolvable aesthetics problem that exists in all still art, even so-called realistic art.

I don’t like Picasso on the ‘pretty’ level and wouldn’t hang one on my wall, but his works bring up significant philosophic, aesthetic and cognitive science questions. All human perceptions and representations of reality are limited, distorted and filled with paradoxes, and his is just a different representation from a different informational angle. So called ‘realistic’ art is filled with smoke and mirrors, tricks and visual illusions.

If one looks at a Picasso work as a philosophic thing, the question of “Is it beautiful or not?” becomes “Is whether or not it’s beautiful a relevant question?” Many artworks are trying to express something other than beauty. Clearly, Munch’s Scream is trying express something other than beauty– and most would say it does a good job at it.

Further, it begs the question of ‘Is it art?’ a worthwhile question.