Life of Artist as a Human Being


P. Picasso, “The Three Ages of Man”, 1942

One of the most horrifying wars in the history of humankind awakens Picasso to the problem of human essence in an artist more than the ordeals of the times he was going through and observing. For Picasso brooding over the question of what is an artist as a human being regardless of artist’s inspirational and professional dedications came to be entwined with the question of resistance to Nazi occupation. Being exceptional on the one hand and on the other – a human being, simultaneously extra and basic/essential, like everybody and unique – which helped Picasso-the artist develop a heightened awareness of “The ages of an artist” – in the midst of war and mass hunger and starvation.

Picasso depicts three ages of a human being-the artist as co-present within the same opened wide windowed interior – one window is a naturalistic one that opens to air (for the soft-bodied adolescent-the future artist), and the other – a symbolic one – the canvas: a window to the internal world the artist comes to utilize in his middle-age (from the child he once was siting on the window), and unexpectedly the artist-as an old man lying nude on the floor with closed eyes (the same person in his two previous incarnations but already quite different, an eccentric).

We see a burgeoning preadolescent casually sharing his energy with the world through the anarchic sounds of his instrument, something like a mini-trumpet or rather a baby-flute. To sit right on the very window it’s simultaneously to cover and to expose himself, cover with flute’s sick but anarchic sounds and expose to the light wind his free and romantically meaningless cheer. In this case the baby-flute not as a musical instrument at all, but as an impulsive musical body, and the energetic hands of the future artist are as effective as his freedom. Blue-white color version of the three incarnations of the artist, which we see here is representation of what the three figures of the same person have found themselves naturally satisfied by – three happy and lucky ghosts of the artist himself – three human beings enjoying creative living.

The middle age artist is not only a man of talent and a humanist (look at his sharp and sad gaze penetrating the horizon – his bodiliness, as if, have become equalized with the perspective of life). He opens his body as love opens itself to loving. Taking off the mask of Minotaur from his face means that even a creature with such a legendary stubbornness and ferociousness is not supposed to be sacrificed. Minotaur’s mask-face shows suffering. But the artist’s face is direct indicator of his intense spiritual and erotic life. A preciously significant detail is his giant brush instead of spur. Serious artist will focus on his creativity much more than on a comfortable interior. Picasso himself completely ignored living a wealthy life and preferred sun and simple clothes. Observing the studio of the artist in this painting we don’t get the impression of a wide perspective. The old artist sleeps nude on the floor.

Let’s look at him lying on the modest fabric with an expression of satisfaction. Instead of enjoying luxurious arrangement he, probably, remembers his life of – ideas, feelings, incredible inspirations and what he learned and understood about life and gave to other people, to the world, to the universe. Man with three or possibly even more ages – the artist, philosopher, lover of women, lover of life and sun, lover of creativity and living and hater of injustice, of war and financial greed. Long ago he was a boy with a small horn. He was a lover and a creator. And he is happy by his peaceful satisfaction of being old and waiting for his happy last hours.

The readers are reminded to pay attention to the sublime feminine statuette near the easel.