ART 315: Museum Research Paper
In my research paper, I will use a near visual examination of Pablo Picasso’s 1903 Breakfast of a Blind Man. This artwork is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This art is from the twentieth century representing a theme of food. I will talk about the painting’s historical significance as well as why I think it’d be a good addition to our text. I will also provide a comparison with another artwork with the image of food from our textbook. In the text, I’ll compare my museum artwork to Jan Davidsz De Heem’s Baroque time period still-life piece titled A Table of Desserts, which has the same theme of food and shelter but is from a somewhat different, more aristocratic community from the mid-17th century (1640).
For my research, I visited https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection. This museum website consists of numerous works of art done by remarkable artists. I had a terrific experience as I browsed through all the compositions present in the museum website. After a lot of perusing, I finally chose the painting, ‘The Blind Man’s Meal’ also known as Breakfast of a Blind Man. This painting was composed by Pablo Picasso in 1903. It measures 95.3 x 94.6 cm on conventional oil on canvas and is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Food is the theme of the artwork I chose from the museum. This painting was created during the earth’s twentieth century. Depending on the viewer’s attention, the style of Breakfast of a Blind Man can be represented as expressionism or symbolism. This dissertation is a fascinating modern restatement of the Christian sacrament—the rite of taking bread and wine to invoke Christ’s flesh and blood. The composition’s strength comes from its sparse setting and limited palette, which are lit with El Greco’s mystical glow. Picasso described his painting in a letter he wrote to his friend Max Jacob, the French poet. In the letter, Picasso described that he was working on a drawing of a blind man at a table holding a piece of bread in his left hand and reaching for a jug of wine with his right hand. The still life on the table is completed by an empty bowl and a white napkin. His disenfranchised state is made all the more poignant by his subtly contorted figure, long slender El Greco-like hands, unadorned surroundings, and blindness. The figure stands out against the austere backdrop thanks to the highlights on his face and neck, hands, bread, and napkin. This painting would make a great addition to our textbook as it is more than just a blind man’s portrait. Picasso uses this portrait to demonstrate human suffering in general and also shows that he identifies with the less fortunate in the society. Therefore, I strongly believe that the painting should be included in our textbook.
In comparison, the painting, A Table of Desserts, 1640 by Jan Davidsz de Heem can be found in chapter five of our textbook. The work is 149cm x 203cm in size. Through the glamorous depiction of food, this Baroque period oil painting of luxury food reflects cultural and religious values of the time, which was an artistic experience for those with sophisticated tastes. Via tipping trays and half-eaten food, it also portrays vanitas, alluding to the fact that earthly things and humans are not eternal. This makes it a good comparison to Breakfast of a Blind Man. The two paintings are similar in that they both portray the theme of food. However, the high-class, ample, yet forgotten food depicted in de Heem’s A Table of Desserts contrasts perfectly with the poor, mentally exhausted subject depicted in Picasso’s Breakfast of a Blind Man, who has nothing but what appears to be a stale piece of bread. Color and shading are both important markers of prosperity, or lack thereof, as seen in many different artists’ techniques and approaches to their respective works.
Art-Picasso.com. “Picasso – Breakfast of a Blind Man 1903, Painted in Barcelona in the Autumn of 1903, Summarizes the Stylistic Characteristics of Picasso’s Blue Period – Art-picasso.com.”
Pablo Picasso Biography and All Paintings in High Definition. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://art-picasso.com/1903_12.html.
“The Blind Man’s Meal.” THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART. Accessed May 10, 2021.https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/488596?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&ft=breakfast+of+a+blind+man+by+Pablo+Picasso+1903
Kren, Emil, and Daniel Marx. “A Table of Desserts by HEEM, Jan Davidsz. De.” Web Gallery of Art, Searchable Fine Arts Image Database. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://www.wga.hu/html_m/h/heem/jan/2/table_de.html.
“Sutori.” Sutori. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://www.sutori.com/item/1640-table-of-desserts-by-jan-davidsz-de-heem-this-baroque-era-oil-painting-of.
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