Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
In 1907 the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso painted “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon”, his first Cubist painting. Inspired by African art, he combined the angular structures of “primitive art” and his new ideas concerning cubism. Critics immediately considered his new work to be limited and some went as far as calling it distasteful.
The painting remained mostly unseen and relatively unknown until 1937 when it was displayed at the museum Petit Palais in Paris, France.
Picasso wrote: 'In the Demoiselles d'Avignon I painted a profile nose into a frontal view of a face. I had to depict it sideways so that I could give it a name, so that I could call it ‘nose’. And so they started talking about Negro art. Have you ever seen a single African sculpture just one where a face mask has a profile nose in it?'.
Picasso's new experiments were received very differently by some of his friends, some of which were very disappointed, even appalled, others were interested. A friend of Picasso, the artist Georges Braque (1882-1963), was so excited by Picasso’s new artwork that the two artists came together to explore the possibilities of cubism in the following years. In 1908 the two began their experiments. Then they found that the pictures that were painted in cubist fashion were very much independent of each other.
After being shown at the Petit Palais, the Museum of Modern Art in New York buys the Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Throughout the years the painting becomes a prized part of the collection.