Friday, December 14, 2012

my morning coffee: light + dark with pablo

A morning jolt of creative inspiration to start your day off right: light + dark with Pablo Picasso.

Something extraordinary happened when Gjon Mili, a LIFE magazine staffer and lighting innovator, visited Pablo Picasso in the South of France in 1949. Mili showed Picasso some of his photos of ice skaters,  jumping in the dark with tiny lights affixed to their skates, and the artist's mind began to race.

“Picasso” LIFE magazine reported at the time, “gave Mili 15 minutes to try one experiment. He was so fascinated by the result that he posed for five sessions, projecting 30 drawings of centaurs, bulls, Greek profiles and his signature. Mili took his photographs in a darkened room, using two cameras, one for side view, another for front view. By leaving the shutters open, he caught the light streaks swirling through space.”

Picasso’s “light drawings”— created with a small electric light in a darkened room — vanished as soon as they were created, and yet they still live, 60 years later, in Mili’s playful, hypnotic images. 

There's something special about the intimacy that these photos captured: seeing art created and the creator. I wonder if that's why more people have trouble understanding what they see on a canvas or as a sculpture. They don't know the artist who made it; they're completely removed from the most important part of the process. If you could see the creator creating, would that change things? I say yes. What do you think?

Beyond light + dark: An excerpt from a 1968 special issue of LIFE, devoted entirely to Picasso, describes a typical scene at his home: “Putting on a mask is sometimes enough to set Picasso off into a kind of witch-doctor frenzy. He roars and writhes behind his gorilla mask, dances away to the mirror, returns in a rubber devil’s mask to swoop down on his daughter Paloma.”

I need to get me some masks. 

See more of Picasso's "light drawings" at Time. All images belong to Time.

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