In the rarefied world of Christie auctions, price is always what makes news. At a recent auction, sales were disappointing except for the price fetched for a Picasso painting from 1950, “Claude and Paloma.” It sold for $28.1 million, much more than predicted. I can see why. I’d have bought it myself. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller’s thoughts about buying a Ferrari, “If you have the means, I recommend it.”
The painting depicts Pablo Picasso’s two youngest children. What strikes me is the depiction of the baby, Claude. In the midst of all kinds of sophisticated design elements, in a sort of cubist composition, the baby’s face stands out as almost a traditional portrait. Could it be that the great man just melted when looking at the little child’s face? This portrait seems a pure depiction of childhood innocence. Maybe the artist was looking back at his own lost innocence, when he first discovered his own talent and had no idea where it would lead him. In 1950, Picasso had just lived through the horrors of the Second World War, which he spent in occupied Paris. The Nazis did not allow him to exhibit, considering him degenerate. The end of the war was a new beginning of artistic freedom. A baby is always a new beginning, too.
The article about the Christie auction, by Carol Vogel, is at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/arts/despite-picassos-bidding-is-sluggish-at-christies.html?_r=0