Witches à la Picasso — it’s what they call “harlequinade “. Figures that look like a colorful chess board. Something magical, mysterious, and either disturbing or inspiring. Or both. Harlequinade à la witch — a Halloween version. Strictly speaking harlequinade was/is a British theater tradition — a pantomime in which the chief characters are harlequins or clowns.
For reference, check out the image when Harlequin Floors provided its product to the Met (Metropolitan Opera, NYC). And one of my colleagues published a short article about Witchcraft Cocktails a couple of days ago…
Picasso, Braque, Cubism and Einstein
What’s not to like about Halloween and what the Harlequinade à la witch it ushers in? Well — this year — masks and all that make it more bizarre. But when Picasso was painting with Georges Braque around the beginning of the 20th century, they drifted toward 1905, 1907, and the demoiselles d’Avignon, the burst of genius. This painting came, it seemed at the time, out of nowhere, as if chaperoned by a series of harlequins. And this happened while Einstein defined, as if by miracle, relativity and the hegemony of the speed of light.
The other part of Einstein’s relativity theory, where he shows that gravity is not a force but an effect of the bending or spacetime, came in 1916.
A lot of music came out of the harlequinade tradition — examples here, available at Amazon:
Messages from the unconscious worlds
Harlequins — I mean the sad-faced, painted, oddly endearing and mysterious figures in patchwork outfits — have always been symbols of the unconscious. It’s a trope in psychiatry, where identities break down– Jung and Freud territory. Our familiar world merges into a swirl of the unknown. How to SEE .. . that is what Picasso was saying, one harlequin after another. The geometry of assembled perspectives led to Cubism, which for better or worse launched all the strangeness of 20th C. art.
And just plain fun outfits — see the ones below for example:
More to come…