Friday, June 10, 2016

The Purging Of Pablo Picasso

That is the purging from the most public place his political views.  This has happened at the Picasso Museum in Paris as a result of its renovation, with its reopening in 2014 after several years removing any hint of Picasso's political views.  As it was, he joined the French Communist Party in 1944 and remained a member until his death in 1973 at the age of 92, although there is evidence his enthusiasm waned somewhat after 1968.  NevHe admired them for their resistance to the Nazis and also because of  their position in the Spanish Civil War.  And at the end of WW II, they were the largest political party in France, even if today their support is in the neighborhood of 2% or less.

The sign of this shift is the disappearance of his 1951 "Massacre in Korea" from display in the museum, a protest against US actions in Korea modeled on a famous painting by Goya.  Prior to the renovation,  it was the culmination of a visit to the museum, the last thing one saw as one went through the museum, and an obvious indication of his political views.  It is now not to be seen, nor is there any other overtly political painting or sculpture in the museum, much less any mention of his political views on any of what one reads on the walls as one goes through.  Picasso's political views have been purged from the museum.  Instead there is now a massive amount of his sculpture, almost more than there are  paintings, much of  this not well known and also  very impressive.

Of course there was always a problem regarding Picasso and the Communist Party, a great big contradiction.  They, or at least the Soviets, hated his modern art, which they considered to be bourgeois western decadence.  Picasso was fully aware of this, but it never seemed to bother him.  He even painted Stalin in a way he thought complimentary, but the Soviets hated it.  I do not know where this painting is.  And he was also quite wealthy in his older age and very much involved with selling his  painting to wealthy capitalists and all that.  But that Picasso  had this contradiction, this is no longer to be seen or known in the museum where the greatest amount of his art work is located.  Whatever one thinks of his views, something has been lost.

Addendum:  Let me relate this to the current situation in France, where indeed the Communist Party may be making its last stand as a power in French society and economy.  As many of you may know, the Socialist government of Hollande has proposed a labor "reform" removing many rights of workers that is supposed to raise employment.  The more leftist labor group, the Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT), closely linked to the French Communist Party is strongly opposing this and has been engaging in strikes, and is calling for a general strike in a few days.  It is not being supported by the more conservative Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail (CFDT).  While CGT union members are only 2 and 1/2 percent of the French labor force, a percentage about matching support for the Communist Party, they are in some crucial sectors, especially transportation, so if they all go out on strike, they can really shut the nation down, and the European soccer tournament has just started.  Despite their low membership, many in France are sympathetic.  This is a big showdown, but if they lose, they may go the way of people recognizing Picasso's membership in the French Communist Party.

Barkley Rosser

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