Picasso was an influence…duh!

Lichtenstein_girl125I have been making the museum rounds.   Walked through the Whitneys exhibit called Picasso and American Art last Friday.  In general, I have always enjoyed the exhibits that the Whitney puts on.  As a whole their curators do a fantastic job.  They missed the mark on this one. 

Max Weber, Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, John Graham, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jasper John are the majority of American Artists that are represented in this show.  Each artists work is compared and contrasted to Picasso.  See how Lichtenstein was influenced by Picasso.  Here is a work by Lichtenstein and here is a work by Picasso.  See the similarities? 

To me, this show is a big DUH!  Picasso was one of the greatest artist of the 20th Century.  You’d have to live in a hole as an artist not to be influenced by him.  Go to the show at the Met and see how the prominent artists of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century were influenced by each other.  They all knew of each other and were trying to push new boundaries.  Do you think there is a musician who hasn’t been influenced by the Beatles, or perhaps The Rolling Stones or Ella Fitzgerald or Bob Dylan. Bob Dylans latest album was influenced by an old poet.  The only people that are perhaps not influenced by the world around them have been living in a remote village in the middle of nowhere without any access to the world outside. 

The show reminded me of an event that Fred and I went to see back in 2005 called "Who Owns the Culture".  There were many conversations about artists particularly music since Jeff Tweedy of Wilco was one of the speakers.  Look at hip-hop music.  You have artists using other peoples music in their music as they also scratch albums of other musicans back and forth.  Who owns that?  Who created that?  Do the other artists deserve recognition for it?  Not sure. 

My guess is that everyone of the American Artists highlighted in the exhibit at the Whitney can point to their influencers over the years.  The were influenced, they used some of their techniques and through that process they were able to create their own voice.  That is art. 

The Whitney must have been at a loss for what the next big show should be.  I felt like they went deep into the basement, found some connections and just threw it up on the wall.  What a major disappointment.  Conceptually the comparisons could have been much more thought provoking.  Here is an artist, how they were influenced, different stages that they went through to get to the mark they have made on 20th Century art.  A big miss the mark for the Whitney.