Once upon a time, in 2011, my greenhorn days on WP, I wrote a post asking, definitively, who was the first 20th century artist to use text in their painting and which painting was it?
I rarely ask such detailed and mundane questions anymore but five years ago I was much closer to my academic past and my art historian’s hair splitting curiosity. Now, the only questions I ask are related to the quality of tequila, missing socks, mermaids and mortality.
I was reminded of the mentioned 2011 post as I stood in front of Picasso’s Still Life with Bottle and Glass at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s spring exhibition MASHUP. I was also entranced as I always am when I manage to place myself before the work of a master.
Although photos were allowed the light was so weak around Picasso and Braque that I have replaced my dark photos with quality images of the same works, from Google Images. Seems like cheating somehow, to use images not my own, and you miss the mood and the gorgeous ancient frame around the Picasso, but you will need to imagine.
This is the VAG write-up for the Picasso piece:
In my 2011 post I settled on Still Life with Chair Caning, a Picasso painting from 1912 as the first painting with text. I understand now that Braque was probably the first of the two to use text, but more in the medium of printing.
Art dealer and print enthusiast Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler commissioned Georges Braque to execute the large intaglio print Fox in 1911, at the same time that he asked Pablo Picasso to make a print using the same size plate. Cubism was a radical new style being created by these two artists as a collaborative effort, and this style is evident in Fox, a café still life in which Braque used the drypoint technique to fragment the forms by means of short, spontaneous, staccato lines and cross-hatchings. Textual components such as the word “FOX” make reference to an English-style bar frequented by the Cubist poets and painters, while “Old Tom Gin” refers to the central motif of the still life, a bottle of gin. (moma.com)
To stay in context I continue to choose Still Life with Chair Caning, but this time because it is entirely a true 1912 MASHUP!