Artibus et Historiae no. 26 (XIII)

1992, ISSN 0391-9064

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LAWRENCE D. STEEFEL, JR. - The Neglected Fruit Cluster in Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

The fruit still life in the foreground of Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is here raised to new prominence. Its forms are read not as part of a narrative, as in most earlier interpretations, but rather as an emblematic and powerful phallic presence generated through the artist's development of the composition in his preliminary studies for the painting. The five demoiselles now appear to surround a fetishistic assemblage of objects, and the work as a whole, though still startling in its dissonance, becomes a more cultic and confrontational image than the descriptions of Robert Rosenblum or Leo Steinberg suggest.

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