Monday, September 12, 2011

Picasso: "The Charnel House"

The Charnel House (painted 1944-1945)

[OK, I mis-remembered--she is under the table, not on it....]

Note that the table is a sketch, but the shadowed area, where the massacred family lie, is filled in; not with color, but a kind of monochrome, like a newspaper/magazine photo, but the table, which had been set for their breakfast while they were still alive is in rough sketch form. The horrific image, what we would see, their cruel deaths, is rendered in fuller detail, while the remnants of their lives, what had been so real to them while alive, just before the soldiers burst in, is a faded reality. Bread, a bowl, a pitcher (of milk?), a tablecloth in disarray--pulled down in the violence....

Note the detail of the mother's hair. Then look at how it falls from her body, to one raised hand of the baby, spilling--like liquid--into the other hand of the baby, then toward the baby's mouth; hair doesn't spill, like a liquid...but blood might....We realize suddenly that it is not hair, but the mother's blood; the baby's last nursing was macabre; it was the milk of Death, not Life. The blood spills from one hand directly down toward the baby's open mouth, ready to nurse--but the baby's other hand is above its mouth, as if to block the fall of blood into its mouth.

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