Open Opinions on Painting – Maurice de Vlaminck

It is difficult to kill something that does not exist. But if it is true that there are dead people who must be killed, I shall try none the less. … It must be asked whether Picasso is aware of his shrewdness, and one is afraid of discovering a facade, where one thought to find a character. The slightly cheeky mask which he affects gives him the appearance of a sort of monster which takes you in with its simplicity. He detests being discovered in this.

. . . Pablo Picasso is guilty of having led French painting into the most mortal impasse, into an indescribable confusion. From 1900 to 1930, he has led it to negation, to powerlessness, to death. For alone with himself, Picasso is power-lessness made man; nature having refused him all real character, he has used his entire intelligence, all his malice to create a personality for himself. . .

Everything is fine for him! Dilettante, he plays music, but this music is a pot-pourri, he does not draw a line, he does not paint a stroke, without reminding you of some source.

Giorgione, El Greco, Steinlen, Lautrec, Greek figurines and funeral masks: he uses everything. Forain, Degas, Cezanne, African and Polynesian sculptures, he orchestrates everything. . . . The only thing that Picasso is incapable of doing, is a Picasso which is a Picasso!

. . . Picasso was encouraged by complicities of all kinds. His greatest hopes have been surpassed. He could not have hoped for more! The most deprived, the incapable, the failures devoid of all sensibility and of any gift, rallied around Pablo Picasso. They tagged along behind this hybrid and decorative art: *Painting-by-numbers\

If it is difficult to kill what does not exist, it is because in reality there is no Cubism: there is Picasso. … A collective aberration, which the critics encouraged, has alienated all good sense, all true sentiment. Cubism! Perversity of spirit, insufficiency, amoralism, as far from painting as pederasty is from love.

Picasso has suffocated, for many generations of artists, the spirit of creation, faith, sincerity in work and in life. For it is certain that a work of art has nothing to prove ‘socially 1 , it is certain that it must be human: a lesson!

At our last meeting in a gallery, we shook hands.

‘We’re getting old,’ Picasso, I said to him.

‘Me!’ he replied with a bitter smile. Tm not getting old, I’m going out of fashion.’


Vlaminck’s criticism of Picasso was originally published as ‘Opinions libre sur la peinture’, Comoedia, Paris, 6 June 1942

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