Post abortive father: Picasso


After reading this article, is anyone tempted to remove Picasso prints from their home? Don Quixote hangs above my desk, and has been there for years.


If we are to boycott everyone who has had moral failings we’d have a pretty long list. There is Picasso the man and Picasso the artist who addressed large moral issues too, his Guernica work comes to mind. Anyway, he almost certainly he is benefiting from the print you have.


When I look at the print, I think of what Don Quixote stood for. I never cared much for Picasso’s work in general, including Guernica.


Well, boycotting him isn’t going to have any effect on his life or fortune, HE’S DEAD! And I doubt a boycott is going to change the mind of the art world. Beating a dead horse here.


I am thinking that these works have a place of honor in our homes, and maybe that space could honor God instead.


Good point.


That is extremely disturbing…I didn’t know any of that about his personal life. Compare Girl in a Pink Chemise to Maternity…the child that she should have had…that is heartbreaking. An effective plea against abortion if I’ve ever seen one.

Obviously boycotting him now won’t accomplish anything, but I’m glad I am a little more educated about the man.


I would chuck his or anyone else’s art if it was a stumbling block.


I usually separate the art from the artist, a lot of the artists I like more often than not had messy personal lives and beliefs. However if someone can’t enjoy an artist’s work because they’ve done so many horrible things, it is what it is, you can always use the space for something else beautiful. Bill Cosby used to be one of my all time favorite comedians, sadly I just can’t enjoy his standup routines like I used to.

I don’t have any Picasso prints, as I prefer other artists more. But the backstory makes some of his works more haunting.


The list of artists whose personal lives were less than exemplary is endless. It includes:

  • Michelangelo
  • Richard Wagner
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Christopher Marlowe
  • Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Claude Debussy
  • Eugene O’ Neill
  • Ingmar Bergman
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Thomas Carlyle
  • Richard Strauss
  • Hans Pfitzner
  • Thomas Kinkade
  • Federico Fellini
  • Gertrude Stein
  • Jean Cocteau
  • W.H. Auden
  • Clara Schumann
  • Leni Riefenstahl

I end my list here in order to avoid tedium, but the point, I think, is made. It is unnecessary to agree with the character or morals of a particular artist in order to be edified and enriched by his work. To think otherwise is to make them into secular saints, at least the ones of whom we approve, and to deprive ourselves of their unique insights.


Not the only artist with a horrible track record towards women. I went to see an exhibition of Cezanne and Degas recently, both these men came from fairly well of backgrounds but the difference between how they treated people is huge. Cezanne was remembered mostly by those who came in contact with him as a humble, quiet man who lived for his art and family. He had a nervous breakdown after the death of his first wife and was very close to her and had a rich family life. Degas was remembered by his contemporaries as a great artist but a horrible human being, fond of mocking women as well and talking of them as subhuman and only fit for breeding. He never married and was an arch conservative. Interestingly he was also a devout Catholic but of a rather fanatical sort who would sack models and studio employees if he discovered they were Protestant. Both are however worth studying as artists and as noted it is sometimes important to separate the artist’s work from his personality.


What did Mozart do? I heard he was a devout Catholic.


He may have considered himself to be devout, but at the age of twenty-eight years he joined the Freemasons, and was an active member of a lodge in Vienna until his death seven years later. His opera The Magic Flute is suffused throughout with Masonic symbols and concepts. The spoken dialogue between the musical numbers, especially in the second act, refers constantly to arcane knowledge and rituals of Freemasonry. I wrote a paper on the Masonic symbolism in The Magic Flute when I was at school and investigated the subject thoroughly. In addition, there is evidence that Mozart and his wife enjoyed what would today be referred to as an ‘open relationship’, one in which the partners, rather than attempting fidelity one to the other, were instead promiscuous in the bestowing of their amorous attentions to various people outside their marriage.

Edit: As an ardent fan of Mozart’s music in general and of The Magic Flute in particular, I say these things not to slander the man but merely in answer to the question posted by another CAF member.


I totally idolized Picasso when I was an art student. I knew nothing of his personal life.

Recently, “Genius” on National Geographic channel started airing his story. I was so put off by his treatment of women and his attitude about art; I couldn’t continue watching the story.

I still greatly admire some of his work but am repelled by the man.


On Wikipedia it was supposedly okay to be a Freemason in Austria since the Bull didn’t take effect yet there or something like that.


I agree with all this…when I took art history courses, we mostly studied only the artwork itself and its contributions to the art world…less focus was on the artist’s personal life, though sometimes it was relevant.

I also usually separate the art from the artist, which is why I don’t boycott Hollywood or Disney, for instance. I can enjoy watching Mission Impossible without endorsing Tom Cruise’s personal beliefs.

I’d probably rather not know much about the artist…I’d rather enjoy a Monet painting or a Degas ballerina without having to remember whatever sordid backstory there is.

But in this case, facts about Picasso’s life were pointed out, and it is deeply troubling and heart-breaking to learn of it. It doesn’t lessen his contributions or influence in the art world, or that I’m going to boy-cott his works–I’m not. But I can’t help that it does change how I’ll perceive his work from now on. Same with the others who were pointed out.


The fact remains that almost all of Freemasonry is in direct opposition to Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular. It is thought that much of the Masonic movement in Vienna was politically motivated, being in part a violent reaction against the arch-conservatism of the Empress Maria Theresia. However, Mozart was not an idiot, and would have been well aware of the conflict between his lodge and his Church. It may also be that his joining the lodge was more mercenary than it was an honest acknowledgment of his beliefs in the cult. He had a large family with many small children and was constantly in debt. It is possible that his Masonic membership was more in the nature of what we would call ‘networking’, a resource for him to find work, or more crassly, to gain access to wealthy members from whom he could borrow money, a habit which became more and more frequent as he aged.


I agree. This is becoming depressing to have these artists knocked off their “thrones”. I think I would rather have remained ignorant, lol.

I remember how sad I was when I learned how Charles Dickens treated his wife and family, because I really enjoy his writing.

I’m grateful to be in the Church now with so many true Saints and heroes to look up to instead.


I know just what you mean. Sadly, we often cannot help being affected by knowledge of an artist’s character and morals, or lack thereof. When I was still a performing musician, I was quite fond of the singing of the soprano Kathleen Battle. Her voice sounded to me quite as if it were that of an angel, and I collected her recordings assiduously. However, upon learning of her hideous character from colleagues whom had worked with her personally, my enjoyment of her art was marred by knowledge of her beastliness to people. I do still enjoy her work, but as in your case with Picasso, I cannot ‘unlearn’ the things I now know about her. Sad.


Yes, that’s it exactly.

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