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PRINT May 2001

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El Greco

“Cubism is Spanish in origin, and it was I who invented Cubism. We should look for Spanish influence in Cézanne. . . . Observe El Greco’s influence on him. A Venetian painter but he is Cubist in construction.” Pablo Picasso must have been in an exceptionally grandiose and perverse frame of mind when he uttered these words. His claim to be the sole inventor of Cubism is certainly exaggerated, but what are we to make of his claim on El Greco as aesthetic forebear?

In 1960, when Picasso reportedly made this statement, he was hardly a recent convert to the cult of El Greco. As early as 1899, he had sketched the head of a man resembling an El Greco saint and scribbled beneath it, “Yo, El Greco.” In his recent study of the two artists, Robert Lubar incisively analyzed that lapidary inscription: “Picasso simultaneously paid homage to a venerable Spanish painter and declared his position as El

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