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Picasso, on creativity and intuition
March 2, 2017
The hungarian photographer Brassaï interviewed Pablo Picasso over a 30-year-long interview series, (October 25, 1881–April 8, 1973) collected in Conversations with Picasso.
When Brassaï asks whether the painter’s ideas come to him “by chance or by design,” Picasso slips in some sidewise wisdom on the tyranny of “creative block” and responds:
I don’t have a clue. Ideas are simply starting points. I can rarely set them down as they come to my mind. As soon as I start to work, others well up in my pen. To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing… When I find myself facing a blank page, that’s always going through my head. What I capture in spite of myself interests me more than my own ideas.
To further illustrate this notion that the best creative work happens when the rational, self-editing mind gets out of the way of the intuitive inclination -Picasso offers an illustrative example.
Despite being both a professional admirer and a personal friend of Matisse’s, he cites the painter’s notoriously methodical creative process as a betrayal of this notion that an artist should honor his or her initial creative intuition:
Matisse does a drawing, then he recopies it. He recopies it five times, ten times, each time with cleaner lines. He is persuaded that the last one, the most spare, is the best, the purest, the definitive one; and yet, usually it’s the first. When it comes to drawing, nothing is better than the first sketch.