The world’s most well known works of art are both instantly familiar and profoundly mysterious. What has made these images so popular, and how did they come into existence? The Private Life of a Masterpiece answers these questions by delving into the secrets of iconic works of art dating from 1501 to 1950. Piecing together a trail of clues, it examines each work from conception through completion to afterlife, detailing how the commission came about, the preparation undertaken by the artist, the way the work was executed, how the finished work was received, and its influence on other artists.
This episode focuses on Pablo Picasso’s revolutionary and controversial work, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon, originally titled The Brothel of Avignon.)
Arguably the first modern painting, this portrayal of five huge prostitutes was so powerful and controversial when it was first revealed that one fellow artist declared that Picasso would be found hanged behind it one day. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was Picasso’s first major work after his relatively conventional Rose Period, his first work to be labeled Cubist and occasionally called the first Cubist painting. It saw the abandonment of many techniques that had come to be associated with Picasso up until this point in what some consider was fueled by competition against Henri Matisse after seeing his painting “Le bonheur de vivre”.
Fulmar Television & Film Production for BBC Wales