What can Picasso tell us about catalysing change today?
As I wandered around the Tate Britain today soaking up the latest exhibit, Picasso and British Modern Art, I began to notice some really interesting parallels for my role in catalysing social change. I am fascinated about how Picasso was a true innovator and was responsible for radically changing the British Art scene. Being curious about how change happens, I paid attention to what I could learn from the conditions that surrounded the emergence of his work into Britain. Here are a few things I noticed:
As a pioneer, expect criticism: Picasso’s early Cubism entry into Britain in 1910 was met with huge criticism from the established British art scene – his artwork was described by GK Chesterton ‘a piece of paper on which Mr Picasso had the misfortune to upset the ink and tried to dry it with his boots’.
Find people who believe in you: Picasso was protected and guarded by a circle of friends, many from the Bloomsbury Group community, who believed in Picasso and his work.
Find people who believe in you AND have access to resources and power: Picasso was supported not only by people who believed in his work, but also by people who had access to resources and power – his curators.
Go where the energy to truly experiment & find channels to connect with others who are curious: Picasso’s focussed on where his work would flourish, in Paris. Although not fully accepted in Britain, those people who were curious about Picasso were still able to learn about him through channels such as journals which were sent to Britain.
Use your ‘dark shadows’ as a source of creative energy: It was often at a point of crisis ~an affair, a friends suicide, or the Spanish Civil War ~ when Picasso was his most creative.
Although you may not realise it, your innovation and creativity influences others. While Picasso was developing work, artists from all over the world and Britain were influenced by Picasso, even though he never met many of them.
Your artistry can be conveyed in different ways: David Hockney observed through Picasso that ‘an artist need not restrict himself to a particular style or medium”. … and that’ ones artistry may take many forms.
Art as a medium for engaging the public and politicians in the ‘big’ conversations: Being shocked by the annihilation of a Basque town in Spain, Picasso created the famous painting Guernica. This painting alone engaged politicians and society in debates around war, violence and routes to peace.