Girl Before a Mirror

Weekly Art Post

One of the most beautiful pillars of cubism, “Girl Before a Mirror” (1932) examines Picasso’s longtime mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. This erotic painting explores emotion, color, and beauty in several different perspectives; it portrays and conveys a lot, while still remaining mysteriously vague in Picasso’s myriad world.

I trashed my own interpretation of this dynamic scene when I saw a much more intricate, developed one on the website of my favorite museum, New York’s MoMA. Here it is:

Her white-haloed profile, rendered in a smooth lavender pink, appears serene. But it merges with a more roughly painted, frontal view of her face—a crescent, like the moon, yet intensely yellow, like the sun, and “made up” with a gilding of rouge, lipstick, and green eye-shadow. Perhaps the painting suggests both Walter’s day-self and her night-self, both her tranquillity and her vitality, but also the transition from an innocent girl to a…

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