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The Success and Failure of Picasso
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The Success and Failure of Picasso

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  167 ratings  ·  13 reviews
At the height of his powers, Pablo Picasso was the artist as revolutionary, breaking through the niceties of form in order to mount a direct challenge to the values of his time. At the height of his fame, he was the artist as royalty: incalculably wealthy, universally idolized−and wholly isolated.
In this stunning critical assessment, John Berger−one of this century's most...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 21st 2011 by Vintage (first published 1965)
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Classic comment that I remember from this book was where Berger pointed out that after a certain point in Picasso's life, if he wanted anything all he had to do was draw it.
Nick Ziegler
One of the most enjoyable reading experiences I've had in a while. Berger's erudition and analytic acumen are sharp and wide-ranging, but the book is presented more as the notes of a learned man than a rigorous academic work. And this is good, because Berger manages to give us an entirely new appreciation of a familiar forest by presenting us with a provocative account of several of its most significant trees. That is to say, the book is not comprehensive; it is guided by its argument, not by an...more
This 1989 edition of the book includes a brief intro by the author explaining the book's initial reception in 1965 when its subject was still living; and a third chapter written in the '80s, after Picasso's death. In a way a response to the ineffectual hagiography that surrounded Picasso, Berger, a Marxist, attempts to explain the artist as a product of his place (feudal, anarchistic Spain), his time, his personal isolation as an exile and deified celebrity. Berger shows how Picasso's style was...more
Berger presents a fair analysis that blasts blind adoration of Picasso. I understand this artist better that I would have predicted. His mindset was removed mostly from the social mechanisms of his time. His Spanish roots, particularly about duende (macabre look about spiritualism), cast him as a charmer, yet he stayed away from his homeland soon after his youth. A child prodigy, Picasso's father vowed never to paint again when viewing his 14 year old son's works. Pablo became an island. Only in...more
John Berger presents a profound analysis of Picasso's paintings. He shows how Picasso's exile from Spain had a great influence on his painting. The major analysis by Berger is that Picasso was unlike most of his contemporaries. Whereas many painters view their lives through the works they created, Picasso was Picasso. He was viewed through a different prism. All his works were considered masterpieces because he was Picasso. People were afraid to criticize his paintings. Not so Berger. Picasso's...more
Berger's aim in this book is to find where and how Picasso has succeeded in his art, and how he also has not. His is not as much the individual events of Picasso's life, but the evolution of his life and the effect of it and its developments on Picasso's art. I particularly liked that he gives background, history, and context to different periods, giving the information a richness and better understanding of Picasso's surroundings.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in having a better un...more
Melanie Faith
There is no doubt that this book is well-written and thoughtful. Yet, the prose is dense and sometimes felt like reading an extended term paper or thesis. Parts of this book were fascinating while others, I felt, got bogged down in analysis unrelated to Picasso's life. For readers who are interested just in learning more about Picasso, it might be a slog of a read; I'd recommend a biography instead. For readers who delight in art historian and social criticism vocabulary, then it might be an ide...more
. . . still mulling it over . . .

It took me a long time to get through this book, even though Berger is one of my favorite writers. What Berger writes about Picasso is enlightening, perplexing, thought-provoking, annoying, spot-on, dead-wrong.

This is an incredible piece of work for anyone interested in Picasso, or more widely, what "makes" an artist.

I will likely read it again.
Berger delves into the variety of influences on Picasso's life and work, from the history of Spanish feudalism, bourgeois Europe, WWI &II, anarchy, physics, the rise of European industrialism, American capitalism, Communism, Cubism, the birth of Surrealism, and other fun-filled topics. He even gets around to Picasso's mistresses, too.
Excelente aproximación objetiva a un personaje paradigmático del siglo XX como Pablo Picasso. Con un fino y preciso análisis de sus obras. Polémico y muy recomendable
Eye opening view of Picasso situated in social-cultural historical account that will allow you to reconsider Picasso and Cubism in particular.
Kenneth Smith
Berger wrote this while Picasso was still alive. Quite interesting to read why this Marxist critic thinks the communist artist failed.
Conrad frankel
a good book, worth the read, helps demistify this popular yet misty artist
Lucy Lehrman
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John Peter Berger is an English art critic, novelist, painter and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a college text.
More about John Berger...
Ways of Seeing About Looking G. To the Wedding And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos

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“ما من رسام آخر تمتع بذيوع الصيت هذا بين مثل هذا العدد الكبير من الناس.
إن التفسير التقني لذلك إنما يكمن في وسائط الإعلام الجماهيرية. فما أن يتم انتقاء شخص ما. لسبب أو لآخر، حتى تقوم هذه الوسائط بمضاعفة جمهوره من الألوف إلى الملايين. وفي حالة بيكاسو، عمل هذا التحول على تغيير ثقل شهرته. فهي ليست كشهرة ميليه في فرنسا أو ميليز في إنجلترا قبل ثمانين عاماً. فقد اشتهر هذان لأن لوحتين أو ثلاثًا من أعمالهما نالت حظوة سريعة لدى الجمهور، فاستنسخت عنها الصور وزينت بها ملايين البيوت. إن عنواني اللوحتين كرز الناضخ والملاك كانا أكثر ذيوعًا من اسم الرسام. أما إذا نظرنا إلى الموضوع على صعيد عالمي اليوم فإننا لا نجد أكثر من واحد في المئة ممن يعرفون اسم بيكاسو يستطيع أن يميز لوحة واحدة من لوحاته.”
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