Giotto and Picasso Giotto di Bondone and Pablo Picasso, two of the greatest artists in history, greatly influenced today’s art and its techniques. Both of them broke the boundaries applied to their time and expressed space in ways that had never been seen before. Nonetheless, there exist differences between the two. For instance, their artistic styles and stages differed. While Giotto painted in the Gothic period and in the style of frescoe, Picasso, being a painter of the twentieth century, had many styles and stages broken down into periods to his works.
His most famous period, also known as the most radical art of the twentieth century, has been Cubism. Furthermore, Giotto dealt largely in traditional religious subjects, something which Picasso did not. Giotto was also the first to apply expression to faces, making each person an individual; show detailed clothing and fill in his background with trees and mountains. Their way of breaking boundaries also differed. Giotto broke free from the old stylistic conventions that had dominated European art for more than a thousand years.
Picasso, on the other hand, opened up a century’s worth of exploration on the meaning of art through his angry masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and his conclusion to the concept of Cubism. Yet another difference between the two would be their use of space. In his Madonna enthroned, Giotto opened up space in front and behind the Madonna, creating a window that allowed the viewer to see into an illusionistic space on the two- dimensional panel; while Picasso began to express space in strongly geometrical terms, creating an almost sculptural sense of space in the late 1906 during the beginnings of Cubism.
Both being such great influences on art, it would be hard to decide who the better artist had been and, although Giotto may be recognized as the first genius of art in the early Italian Renaissance, Picasso is considered to be one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. Giotto was a painter of the Gothic period, which was from approximately 1200-1300, and painted in the style of frescoe. 1 Although he lacked the knowledge of perspective and anatomy, which was common amongst other artists of his day, Giotto was the first to have a grasp of human emotion and of the significance that human life holds. He was also the first to present detailed clothing and a filled-in background along with showing people in his paintings as individuals, each portraying some sort of expression or emotion on their face. In his Lamentation of the dead Christ or ‘Pieta’, Giotto showed each face in the painting as a different person with expression or emotion on the faces and filled in the background with trees and mountains. He broke free from the old stylistic conventions that dominated European art in his painting of the Madonna Enthroned.
Here, he opened up space in front and behind the Madonna, creating a window that allowed the viewer to see into an illusionistic space on the two-dimensional panel, giving the panel a sense close to tri-dimensionality. 3 Giotto also introduced a naturalistic style of painting. 4 In his Madonna and Child, Giotto showed baby fat, baby hands doing baby things (instead of blessing people) and details on the Madonna’s clothing. In his Kiss of Judas, one can see individual hairs and Judas’ lips puckering for the kiss.
His works dealt largely on traditional religious subjects, such as the Madonna or Judas, but he gave them an earthly and full-bloodied life and force. 5 Although his style began to die down, it was later revived in the 1400s by Masaccio. Pablo Picasso began to draw at an early age and, unlike Giotto, had many stages and styles to his paintings. He had a “Blue Period”, a “Rose Period” and an “Abstract” or “Cubist Period”; the latest of the three being his most famous period. 6 Picasso’s “Blue Period” was during his late teens, around 1901 to 1904, and the works he produced were quite sentimental.
Shortly after moving to Paris from Barcelona, he began creating works suffused in blue pigment, giving them a somber tone. This was triggered by the suicide of his childhood friend, the Spanish poet Casagemas, along with his own poor living conditions during that time. 7 The most poignant of his works in this style would probably be that of La Vie, which started off as a self portrait but then looked a lot like and had the features of Casagemas, and is located now in Cleveland’s Museum of Art. 8 In 1905-1906, he began to lighten his palette and thus created a beige or “rose” tone; this began his “Rose Period. Here, his subject matters were a lot less depressing than that of his “Blue Period. ”9 One of his works from this period is located in Washington D. C’s National Gallery; the large and extremely beautiful Family of Saltimbanques (circus people) dating to 1905. Set in a one-dimensional space, it shows a group of circus workers who appear alienated and unable to communicate with each other. 10 In the late 1906, Picasso began to express space in strongly geometrical terms. This was inspired by Cezanne’s flattened depiction of space.
These efforts of developing an almost sculptural sense of space are the beginnings of “Cubism. ”11 The profound effects that Cezanne had on Picasso resulted in his creation of the angry masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, now held in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. 12 This masterpiece was not shown to the public until 1916, long after he had completed his early “Cubist” pictures. His previous works had not yet prepared the populance for the explosion of this creation which greatly impacted later Modernism. 13 Cubism itself had two stages to it.
The initial stage was “Analytical Cubism,” where objects were deconstructed into their original components, and the second stage, which was also its conclusion, was “Synthetic Cubism. ” The aim of “Analytical Cubism” was to produce conceptual images of objects instead of perceptual ones and, at its height, reached levels of expression that threatened to be incomprehensible to the viewer. 14 One of his works from this period would be that of his Girl with a Mandolin, considered to be a valuable document of the period because Picasso saw the work as unfinished and this gives an insight into his aesthetic intentions and his technical procedure.
Picasso took the concept of “Cubism” to its logical conclusion in “Synthetic Cubism. ” He did so by pasting a piece of oilcloth to the canvas, a key watershed in Modern art, which provided a sort of sophisticated double take on the part of the observer, and through this he opened up a century’s worth of exploration in the meaning of art. 15 A good example of this ‘dubbed’ “Synthetic Cubism” can be found in the Picasso Museum in Paris. The witty work is entitled Geometric Composition: The Guitar and was created in 1913.
This, alongside other things, made “Cubism” the most radical of all the arts of the twentieth century. After World War I, Picasso reverted to a Classicist mode of representation to reflect society’s disillusionment and shock with the technological horrors of the war but still continued to push “Cubism” into new paths. In January, 1937, Picasso was asked to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion at the world exposition in Paris by the Republican government. 16 Spurred on by the atrocities of the war, the horrors men can wreak upon fellow men and the total destruction of the town of Guernica in he Basque country by bombs, he painted the oil of Guernica in monochrome. This renowned oil, first located in Ney York’s Museum of Modern Art until the death of Franco, can now be found in Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de arte Reina Sofia. 17 Giotto was one of the first artists of the proto-renaissance period in Italy and his emergence actually signaled the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy. His style of painting broke so radically from the shackles of medieval restraint, that influences on his style are still being debated today.
It would be nearly impossible to imagine art without Giotto for he was such a sensation in his time that he was mentioned in Petrarch’s writings and in Dante’s Divine Comedy, where he was said to have surpassed his master. Sometimes called the “father of western pictoral art”, his painting turned from the flatter and more iconic byzantine style to having a more naturalistic approach. He was a firm proponent of using the observation of nature to learn about art and his painting emphasized some major characteristics of modern representational art, sculptural solidity, weight/mass of figures and dimensionality.
Because of his naturalistic way of painting, modern artists often seek inspiration from Giotto because, in him, they find a direct approach to human experience that remains valid for all ages. Overall, the reason for Giotto’s being regarded as the founder of the central tradition of Western painting would be because his work broke free from the stylizations of Byzantine art, introducing new ideals of naturalism and creating a convincing sense of pictoral space. In about 1400, Cennino Cennini wrote “Giotto translated the art of painting from Greek to Latin. ”18
Pablo Picasso was the most influential artist of his century. Influences of his work can be seen in the artwork of great artists such as Salavadore Dali, Juan Gris’ and Wassily Kandinski amongst others. Yet, like all other great artists including Giotto, his work influenced more than just artists and represented more than just art. He contributed to the political and social climate of his time. It is safe to say that, unlike Giotto, his uplifting work offered hope through two world wars and a civil war in his homeland Spain inspiring millions of people at a time when the world’s future was in doubt.
Not that Giotto’s work did not offer hope but that it was neither at such a hard time nor during a war. Another aspect in which he differed from Giotto would be in that of his productivity. Picasso was not only influential but also probably the most productive artist in history. He created over 50,000 works in his lifetime, although not all of them were paintings. A genius of art whose works include 347 untitled engravings, stage sets, illustrations of classical texts, sculptures, ceramics, lithography, a play and two collections of poetry, he truly lives up to his given title of ‘the greatest artist of the twentieth century. It is easy to see what a creative individual Picasso had been. Just one look at the live he lived assures that he was a genius and perhaps even that he was the most renowned artist of all time. 19 Although one might think that Giotto is ultimately the better artist because he was the first to make a drastic change and the first to majorly influence others that could not be confirmed nor stated with complete assurance because the depth of his and Picasso’s influences does not really have a way of being measured.
Since Picasso, too, greatly influenced people after and during his own time, Giotto cannot be credited for being the most influential. Yet, although Picasso did create countless works and masterpieces that are acknowledged even to this day while knowledge of Giotto’s work is limited, Picasso cannot be given the title of the better artist because quantity does not represent quality and although Picasso had a lot of both that does not necessarily mean that Giotto was lacking in either of these aspects. Therefore, it would be safer to assume that they both had great and immeasurable impacts and influences on those around them or their work.
Even though Giotto and Picasso did differ greatly, whether it was in their styles, stages, subjects, times, ways of expression or ways of breaking boundaries along with other things like influences; it is important to keep in mind that they both had an overall drastic effect on today’s art and that, without either of them, art as it is known would just not be the same. Whether it would be better or worse can be kept in doubt because it proves to be something almost impossible to confirm. Either way, both artists contributed in the making of today’s art and various art styles and periods prior to this time.
Both of them have been kept alive all throughout history and that must be so for a reason. So, even if to some art is pretty much meaningless and not of interest, artists prove to be very important people to history not only in the art category but also in other categories such as politics which, by most, are considered a majorly important part of history. Actually, Picasso would be a great example for this because, during the time in which he lived, he did contribute to the political and social climate of his time.
Giotto probably did not do anything like that but that does not kick him any lower on the scale of importance. Ultimately, Giotto, who is recognized as the first art genius in the early Italian Renaissance, and Picasso, who is known as one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century and probably the most renowned artist of all time, are both majorly important figures in history whose greatness can be compared to not only each other but also to many other great artists before and after their times whose accomplishments have also been recorded in history.
Some of which might have even proved to be of inspiration to them throughout their lives and some of which might have been inspired by them after their lives. Either way both are like roots to a plant, each a different part but connected somehow to the main object or in this case idea, and are located so deeply in ‘the dirt’ or in this case ‘time’ or ‘history’ that it would be impossible to pull them out.
In their case, the idea that they are firmly holding together and keeping alive, even after their own deaths, is that of difference because difference can mean many different things and it can be expressed in many different ways. Therefore, it is difference that they created by pushing above and beyond the limits which they were told they had and it is difference they are still inspiring, even to this day, for others to achieve because of the changes and after-effects their being different left behind.
How much and how many people each of them inspired to achieve this difference cannot be counted and neither could however many of them achieved the difference they were trying to achieve. Yet there is no need to count because the beauty of a flower is not shown in how many petals it holds but in the flower itself, and the beauty of inspiration is not shown by how many people have been inspired but by inspiration itself.
The fact that they have been kept alive for so long after their deaths and that people are still being inspired by their achievements gives them both an irrevocable and undying importance and beauty. Depending on who has been inspired by which of the two, some people will think one better than the other but, nonetheless, neither of them will ever surpass the other because if such a task were attempted than it would go on without end. 1”Giotto”, staff. fcps. net, Fayette Co. ,04/29/2009, 10/27/2010, http://staff. fcps. et/aaford/art/giotto. htm 2”Giotto di Bondone”, WebMuseum, Nicolas Pioch, July 27,2002; 10/27/2010, http://ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/giotto/ 3”Comparing Giotto’s and Cimabue’s Madonna Enthroned”, Helium, Thomas Plazibat, 2002-2010, 10/27/2010, http://www. helium. com/items/1897085_giotto_and_cimabue_the_differences 4L. Wolf, Martin, Dictionary of the Arts,(New York,1951) Pg. 216 5”Giotto di Bondone”, WebMuseum 6”Pablo Picasso”, staff. fcps. net, Fayette Co. , 4/29/2003, 10/28/2010, http://staff. fcps. net/aaford/art/picasso. tm 7”Blue Period”, the Artchive, 10/28/2010, http://www. artchive. com/artchive/P/picasso_blue. html 8”Pablo Picasso”, the Artchive, 10/28/2010, http://www. artchive. com/artchive/P/picasso. html 9”Rose Period”, the Artchive, 10/28/2010, http://www. artchive. com/artchive/P/picasso_rose. html 10”Pablo Picasso”, the Artchive, 10/28/2010 11”Beginnings of Cubism”, the Artchive, 10/28/2010, http://www. artchive. com/artchive/P/picasso_protocubism. html 12Brownes, Alan; Modern European Art, (Thomas and Hudson, London, England, 1972)Pg. 105-107 13Ibid, Pg. 117 4”Analytical Cubism”, theArtchive, 11/4/2010, http://www. artchive. com/artchive/P/picasso_analyticalcubism. html 15”Synthetic Cubism”, theArtchive, 11/4/2010, http://www. artchive. com/artchive/P/picasso_syntheticcubism. html 16”Between the Wars”, theArtchive, 11/4/2010, http://www. artchive. com/artchive/P/picasso_betweenwars. html 17”Pablo Picasso”, the Artchive, 11/4/2010 18”Giotto(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)”, ORACLE*ThinkQuest, 11/5/2010, http://library. thinkquest. org/15962/data/giotto. html 19”Pablo Picasso”, the Artchive, 11/4/2010