First off, this post has nothing to do with whether or not Einstein and Picasso were communists. The title just sounded catchy, and I hoped it would catch your attention. Anyway, on to my post.
As I was doing research on Modernism, I found a website that was the course website for a course entitled “Science and Modernism.” One of the suggested reads was Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty That Causes Havoc. Seeing that these two experts were influential in modernism, I decided to give the book a try. A few seconds later on the Kindle, I had downloaded the book, and immediately became interested in the premise of the book. The author himself says that he is “more interested in why Einstein and Picasso Picasso made their discoveries than in how they went about developing insights.” The author explores this by reading parallel biographies on both Picasso and Einstein. An ingenious way of exploring this topic.
Picasso’s work Blue and Rose were his two artworks that established his reputation. Einstein, on the other hand was on the cutting edge of physics. He discovered scientific theories that completely revolutionized Newtonian Physics(at least at high speeds). One thing the author emphasizes is that although these thinkers were revolutionary in their discoveries, if they had been born later, others probably would have made these discoveries. These two minds would have made other discoveries. This made me think that the paradigm shift that was created by Modernism was as much as what caused these discoveries as the minds themselves.
The author discusses at length the personal lives of the two experts. He discusses everything fro their families, to their pets, to their friends and so on. Although I fell like a lot of this information was unnecessary, it was mentioned that Nietzsche was one of Picasso’s favorite philosophers, clearly showing the connection between Picasso and Modernism. In fact, it may have been Nietzsche himself that caused Picasso to become as great as he did. The book’s authors says, “[Nietzche’s] call for explosive development in art, for unhindered self-expression and for the conception of the artist ‘as heroic, defiant, and full of eruptive sexual energy overthrowing accepted styles,’ in addition to a Will to Power charged with sexual energy, struck a resonant chord in Picasso” The author is careful to point out as well that Picasso’s art tended to change with the lifestyle he was living. When he moved, his art would change. When his dog died, his art changed; and when he changed girlfriends his art would change as well.
In his exploration of Einstien, the author brought up facts that I had never known. Einstein was extremely poor towards the beginning of his life. This malnutrition due to poverty caused him several gastrointestinal problems that he struggled with for the rest of his life. This gave me somewhat of a personal connection to the scientist as I have recently struggled with the same kinds of problems (if you really want to know, I wrote somewhat about them in an earlier blog post that can be found here). But even though he struggled with these problems, and he even lost one of his children to adoption, he didn’t seem affected by these events.
All in all, this book does a great job in exploring the reasons why Einstein and Picasso created the works that they did. It was interesting to see the reasons why they did what they did. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a bit more insight to the background behind these two innovators.