'It seemed to me that Picasso had pulled the plug on interpreting the human form...'
The Artist interviewed by Bryan Robertson, quoted in Patrick Caulfield, exh.cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1999, p. 26.
In Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Vues de Derrière Caulfield pays homage to Pablo Picasso, the progenitor of Cubism whose formal innovations and investigations of pictorial space so profoundly inspired the younger artist's own aesthetic. With characteristic visual wit, Caulfield rephrases Picasso's 1907 painting of Spanish prostitutes, a work which marked the beginning of Cubism and which is considered by many today to be the very cornerstone of Modernism. In Caulfield's version, however, he reverses Picasso's image so that instead of viewing the women frontally, we peer at them from behind. Caulfield's unorthodox modification of his source is both a visual pun on the printing process - which reverses the original design - and a verbal pun on the French word derrière, which means rear end. Beyond this playful contrariness which is essential to the artist's spirit, Caulfield's composition packs a conceptual punch as the unexpected viewpoint of such a well known image forces us to reconsider the very act of looking at art.
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