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RETELLING A STORY Velasquez and Picasso: “Las Meninas”

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1 RETELLING A STORY Velasquez and Picasso: “Las Meninas”

2 “Our first feeling is of being there.” --Kenneth Clark, Looking at Pictures


4 We are standing just to the right of the King and Queen, whose reflections we can see in the distant mirror, looking down an austere room in the Alcazar and watching a familiar situation.

5 The Infanta Dona Margarita doesn't want to pose. She has been painted by Velasquez ever since she could stand. She is now five years old, and she has had enough. But this is to be something different…

6 ... an enormous picture, so big that it stands on the floor, in which she is going to appear with her parents; and somehow the Infanta must be persuaded.

7 Her ladies-in-waiting, known by the Portuguese name of meninas, are doing their best to cajole her...

8 ... and have brought her dwarfs, Maribarbola and Nicolasito, to amuse her. But in fact they alarm her almost as much as they alarm us, and it will be some time before the sitting can take place.


10 ?

11 ?

12 ? ? ?

13 ? ?

14 16561656

15 Fast forward: 1957 Pablo Picasso in “La Californie,” his studio in Cannes, France

16 Parenthesis: when Picasso became Picasso (1906-07)

17 “One can assemble, construct, present, but also one can narrate, ‘metamorphose,’ one can give one’s backing to an eternal present...” --Valeriano Bozal, Prologue to Picasso’s Las Meninas

18 Picasso, 1950: “If one set out to copy Las Meninas in all good faith, let’s say,... And if the person doing the copying were me, I’d say: How about putting that girl a little more to the right or the left? I’d try to do it in my own way, forgetting Velasquez. Trying it out, I’d surely end up modifying the light or changing it, because of having changed the position of the figure. And so, little by little, I’d be painting meninas that would seem detestable to the professional copyist, but they’d be ‘my’ meninas...”

19 A U G U S T 1 7, 1 9 5 7






25 Then, from August until the end of December, 1957, “in the grip of an unprecedented pictorial cannibalism,” 43 additional paintings alluding to Velasquez.

26 August 20

27 Also August 20

28 August 27

29 September 4

30 (On September 4, in Little Rock, Arkansas, the National Guard prevented nine black students under federal protection from entering Central High School.)

31 September 5 and 6

32 (On September 5, Jack Kerouac published On the Road.)

33 September 6

34 September 18

35 September 19

36 October 2

37 October 10

38 Elsewhere in the world that fall... West Side Story opened on Broadway (September 26) The Soviet Union put Sputnik 1 in orbit, marking the beginning of the Space Age (October 4) John Lennon and Paul McCartney performed in Liverpool, calling themselves The Quarry Men (November 17) Che Guevara, newly-appointed commander, fought at Mar Verde in Cuba (November 29) Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature (December 10) and...

39 ... Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, released by Olympia Press in Paris in 1955, languished under a ban in France and England. Two copies were confiscated when their owners tried to bring then into the United States in early 1957, but the book was published here by Putnam’s in 1958 and sold 100,000 copies in the first three weeks.

40 One can assembleconstructpresent, but also one can narrate, ‘metamorphose,’ one can give one’s backing to an eternal present...

41 Resources Kenneth Clark, Looking at Pictures (1961) Claustre Rafart i Planas, Picasso’s Las Meninas (2001) Mark Harden’s Artchive Jeff Edmonds, “’Lolita’: Complex, Often Tricky, and ‘A Hard Sell’” 9/nabokov/lolita.sociological.essay 9/nabokov/lolita.sociological.essay A visit to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, October 3, 2005

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