Sunday, 17 January 2010


“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.” - Edvard Munch

Pablo Picasso for Art Sunday today. His painting “The Charnel House” (1944-45. Oil and charcoal on canvas. The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA) encapsulates the horrors of violent death.

This was painted as reports of the death camps began to filter through Europe. The picture is painted in the gray tones of a newsreel and has an unfinished air. Picasso left ghostly, partially rubbed-out lines in the image; the colour is devoid of life. A still life in the upper left appears barren, abandoned. But “The Charnel House” is yet another example of Picasso's intuition about how an artist must approach the century's horrors. Not long after he painted the picture, writers would argue that art must fall mute before the Holocaust, that no image could represent its meaning in anything but the most broken, partial manner. In The Charnel House, Picasso begins but does not presume to end the accounting of the Holocaust: His lines fade toward nothingness.


  1. This one and Guernica are two of his most expressive paintings and show that the visual arts can indeed make a statement and a very strong statement.

  2. This is a very fitting choice given the circumstances in Haiti, Nicholas. I cannot get over the horror and the magnitude of the disaster...

  3. It's a horrible image, isn't it? No wonder seeing the subjects it was inspired by.