Nuria Peist

The identity of Pablo Picasso in the contexts of interaction of modern art

Friday April 28 – Session 05 @ COAC

The distinct theories put forward that the recognition of others influences the conformation of the social trajectory of people, defend at the same time the fact that personal identity is elaborated based on the various contexts of interaction.  Identity isn’t conformed by individual evolution but by the relations that are established throughout particular trajectories.  The way in which social relations dialogues with the subject can be analysed, based on the key idea of habitus by Pierre Bourdieu, that is to say, the way in which the social becomes embodied in the individual.  In the same way as the individual is embodied in the social under a process of interiorizing,  so the profession and the image of the artist is also conformed based on the multiple social interactions that are activated in the system of art, above all based on modernity. Traditional historiography tends to consider aspects related to the identity of the artists focusing on the aesthetic contribution of them in the framework of the history of art.  The relations with others are only studied when the aesthetic influences that the artist receives are presented, above all in the early stages of their trajectory, or based on the form in which the already conformed personality of the subject approaches the others.     

In this communication, we will propose that it is not the artist who is the core of the relations, and, therefore, his image and identity, but that it is the system itself with its agents and historical positions (collectors, dealers, critics, influential people, specialists, museums, etc.) that weave the identity of the agents.  Under the light of these concepts, and without intending to disparage the personal and artistic characteristics of the artist, we will present the distinct contexts of interaction that develop the trajectory of Pablo Picasso as an artist.  Starting with his family space and including the network of defining influences from the art system itself.  We will work in particular on how the significant and constant change of styles of Picasso were motivated by the different environments in which the artist developed.  We will also explain how the access of Picasso to the museums is explained by the tensions between the system of dealers and the system of specialists.  We will call this process the “institutionalisation of the innovation”.  All of these milestones will help us to understand the conformation of the “Picasso” identity in close relation with the identity itself of the constitution of  the system of modern art.    

Nuria Peist

Assistant Professor, Universitat de Barcelona

Nuria Peist is professor of Art History of the University of Barcelona. Her research activity is focused on Sociology in Art, in particular in the processes of recognition of the modern and contemporary artists.  She participates in international congresses on art history, sociology and philosophy and she publishes articles in specialist magazines such as Cultural Sociology. She has published the book The success of modern art. Artistic trajectories and processes of recognition (Ábada Editores, 2012).

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Museu Picasso Barcelona
Montcada 15. 08003 Barcelona

Fundació Palau. Centre d’Art
Carrer la Riera 54. 08393
Caldes d’Estrac Barcelona

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