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Picasso

Architecture and Vertigo

Christopher Green

View Inside Price: $60.00


February 28, 2006
256 pages, 7 x 10
60 b/w + 60 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300104127
Cloth

The starting point of this exciting new exploration of Picasso is not his life but his work, which is revealed as a series of interventions in the troubled history of early twentieth-century Europe. Christopher Green shows how these interventions are remarkable for the force with which they confront issues that remain vital and important for us today: race, cultural difference, modernity, sexuality and the discontents of civilization.  The framework for Green’s exploration is simple, yet enormously rich in its implications: the compulsion found in Picasso’s work simultaneously to build architectures and to release himself from them. Architecture is used by Green to refer not merely to pictorial or sculptural structure, but to the architecture of knowledge and society: the structures of tradition, of racial, social and cultural distinction, of logic and of technology.  He not only develops new ways of seeing the oscillation between order and disorder in Picasso’s work, but moves outwards from it to reveal how it confronted and challenged the architectures of orthodoxy.

Christopher Green is professor of history of art at the Courtauld Institute. His books include Léger and the Avant-garde (1976), Cubism and Its Enemies (1987), Juan Gris (1992), and Art in France, 1900–1940 (2000), all published by Yale University Press.

“Green aspires to see Picasso’s pictures as they may have been understood by his contemporaries. His concerns are historical, he stresses, and he divides his time between detailed analyses of Picasso’s art and a meticulously constructed account of the contexts in which it was made, and first seen. The author has his own hunches as well – he has, after all, been writing on the subject for decades – and his ex cathedra authority is laced with informed speculations. … It is a brilliant book…[and] leaves one pining for more of Green’s insightful evaluation of the art…rich in allusions and implications…very reasonably argued, brilliantly dovetailed… [Green’s] text is full enough of ideas and possible connections to engage much wider interests… The architecture/vertigo polarity [is] intact as a valuable, fertile aid to decoding the artist’s images…and the newest aspects of Green’s Picasso studies all spring from here.” - Nicholas Wadley, Times Literary Supplement