Picasso’s Bull’s Head. Sure, your kid could do that. But your kid didn’t do that.

by Eric Shalit on March 28, 2012

Pablo Picasso's Bull's Head. 1942.

Art made from common found objects have been around since before many of us were born. They’re pretty commonplace nowadays. There was a time before 1942, when presenting found objects or readymades as art was considered revolutionary or ludicrous. The common expression “my kid could do that” speaks to that. Easy for you to say “my kid could do that”. But your kid didn’t do that!

Above is a landmark work ‘Bull’s Head’ by Pablo Picasso (not to be confused with the other renowned artist Chuck Picasso). It’s a compelling piece of bicycle art. I could make a few similar pieces right now from stuff I’ve got in bins in my basement. This kind of art isn’t about ‘making’. It’s about ‘seeing’. Picasso saw the similarity between a real  bull’s head and the combination of bicycle saddle and bars in his mind’s eye. He wasn’t the only one to see and think this way. However, because of his fame and notoriety as a performer of sorts (clown prince), people took the time to stop, look, and think about every little tossed off thing he did. It’s not that this is great art or even that Picasso was a great artist (which he was). It’s that he was Picasso and as such, every utterance, scribble, cough, and assemblage was considered art in the way that Pavarotti reading a shopping list aloud might well be something worth listening to.

So, it may be true that your kid could do that. I encourage you to actually help your kid to do it. Show this to your kids, give them a bunch of stuff, and lock them in their rooms until they’ve produced something. Then hang it on the wall, or put it in the yard, look at it, digest it, and maybe you’ve got the next Pablo Picasso…or Chuck Picasso.

Eric Gibson of the Wall Street Journal wrote in his article:

“Readymades are antiart objects. Their purpose was nothing less than to overturn the entire tradition of artmaking as it had existed since ancient times, a tradition of which Picasso was both heir and beneficiary. If art was to be redefined as simply a question of shifting a pre-existing object from one context to another, then that meant an end to the idea of the art object as a product of the artist’s hand, craft skill, culture, eye and imagination. Above all, that meant the end of the idea of the artist as shaman, a person able to transform and transfigure, who could conjure one thing, a work of art, out of another, its raw materials and constituent parts.”

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