#218 Arena of Life – World of Art


In the 1920s, Picasso and Beckmann began to depict role-playing and costumes in their art. Beckmann appeared, for example, as the sad clown (‘Pierrot’) or as a crier at a fair. With the motif of masks, he hinted at the unsolvable riddles and contradictions of life. For him, the carnival was representative of life and society. For Picasso, the bullfight was a symbol of the drama of life. The arena set the framework in which fate takes its course.

Both artists dealt with women and their relationships with their partners in their work. The classic theme of ‘painter and model’, which also has an erotic side, is of great importance. This is particularly evident in Picasso's illustrations of the story ‘The Unknown Masterpiece’ (original title ‘Le Chef-d'œuvre inconnu’) by the French writer Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). The images deal with both the relationship between man and woman and the struggle for artistic perfection.