MINOTAUR by Pablo Picasso
The classic Grecian Minotaur appeared in Picasso’s art between 1933-1937. Picasso uses the myth of the Minotaur to illustrate the loss of raw and natural balance in the world around him. Picasso used the Minotaur in a series of paintings to illustrate this lost balance between the raw desire of nature and the human world—the balance embodied in the Minotaur.
The Minotaur is the compilation of the unconscious desires of man and the conscious societal constraints that the individual puts on him or herself, thus Picasso’s portrayal of the Minotaur goes beyond the simple myth to comment on the labyrinth of the human condition.
The Minotaur is portrayed by Picasso as a tragic character caught between the two worlds he was created from. The Minotaur evolves in Picasso’s art beyond just a mythological creature to an existential figure who comments on the constraints of human life. Picasso portrays the Minotaur condition as what every human experiences, and the rhetoric in his painting declares that this existence is Sisyphus-ian and tragic. He is directed and punished by the complex world and laws of humanity, when he would rather live like the Bull—free and unburdened by humanity.
MINOTAUR OVER SLEEPING GIRL by Bob Kessel
after Pablo Picasso
DIAMOND MINOTAUR AND NYMPH by Bob Kessel
MINOTAUR AND NYMPH by Bob Kessel
MINOTAUR AND MAIDEN by Bob Kessel
DYING MINOTAUR by Bob Kessel
It may be this love is a debt I am paying,
due to the destiny of my line,
and that Aphrodite is exacting a tribute of me for all my race.
Europa – this is the first beginning of our line – was loved of Zeus;
a bull’s form disguised the god,
Pasiphaë, my mother, a victim of the deluded bull,
brought forth in travail her reproach and burden.
– Ovid, Heroides
MINOTAUR AND GLASS OF WINE by Bob Kessel
MINOTAUR by Pablo Picasso
Art is a human development before it is an aesthetic phenomenon, and Pablo Picasso, the twentieth century metaphysician, autobiographically represents his world translated into a personal aesthetic expression. As a Spaniard it was inevitable that the bull, the bullfight, and eventually the Minotaur, would concern Picasso.
The Minotaur, half-man, half-bull, virile and noble, but ultimately monstrous. The Surrealists loved the Minotaur and his Labyrinth as a symbol of man’s convoluted mind and animal nature.
The Minotaur myth emerged in the arts: Matisse illustrated Henry de Montherland’s Pasiphaë: Chant de Minos; Max Ernst’s Labyrinth and his Wheel of the Sun both allude to this myth, while his Spanish Physician shows a woman flirtatiously dropping her hankerchief before a minotaur-like figure; Giorgio de Chirico made many versions of sleeping The Soothsayer’s Recompense surrounded by labyrinthine colonnades, arches, and facades; and Victor Brauner depicted a wide-awake Ariadne on conveyance that Ernst Trova could have built for his Falling Man; while Masson continued his variations on the Pasiphaë-Labyrinth-Minotaur idea often greatly influenced by Picasso.