In the Words of Picasso

Erik ReeL painting
Erik ReeL, opus 1693, acrylic on archival paper

Picasso, like Einstein and Gandhi, has the misfortune, or good fortune depending on your point of view, that people attribute numerous quotes to him that they don’t want to take credit for themselves. This is ostensibly in order to give the thought or quote more significance or weight than it might otherwise have.


In the case of Picasso, many of these quotes embody thoughts and beliefs that do not correspond to anything Picasso actually said or wrote, Worse, they often use  language or terms Picasso specifically did not like.  [Let’s remember that Picasso  wrote a considerable amount –he is even considered by some to be one of Spain’s greatest post-War writers],

One of the pecularities of this is that there are a great number of quotes attributed to Picasso floating around that mention or imply a belief in God,  a word Picasso refused to use, except in a manner that a true believer would not appreciate. Picasso  was after all, famously, an atheist.

However, he said a lot of interesting things, particularly about painting.  Here is a sample of Picasso quotes on painting:

“Everything is done for the moment and my own state of mind, and this is difficult to describe.  When I did Guernica it was a terrible time, but that is the way it was. Painting is so personal, a kind of autobiography one writes for oneself.”

“My misfortune–and my greatest happiness– is to be dominated by what I love. Everything I love goes into my paintings. Too bad if nothing goes together.”


“Down with style. It is the moment that is important.”


“It could be a step forward to realize that the rational picture of the world is also imagination; it has the same reality as a myth; it is a product of the mind; it si not more substantial than the mind.”


“I think the rational mind is a form of imagination. The weak point of the rational mind is not to think of itself as a form of imagination. The artist’s job is to bring back the consciousness that nothing is really necessary and that substantial things … are not any more necessary than imaginary things. They are just more substantial.”

“Not all societies have given such an importance to substantial things. Everything is real and everything changes. This is the basic idea, there are some things that are more substantial than others, but all things are real to the same degree. An artist is dealing with imagination and is dealing with things we think are not as real as gunshots, but they are as real as gunshots, and do have effects much as gunshots have.”


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