By Michelle Park.
Pablo Picasso is most celebrated for his vibrant and timeless paintings that brought about a multitude of radical art movements during his time. However, Picasso was not merely a painter, but an artist of many trades. His genius hands are endowed with the power to turn any object within his grasp into a bewitching, artistic tool.
In this collaborative photo project with “lighting innovator” Gjon Mili, Picasso painted not only with paint, but also with a strobe light. It all started when Life Magazine sent Mili to visit Picasso in Southern France in 1949, to show the artist a series of photographs of skaters prancing about in the nighttime. It only took fifteen minutes for Picasso to get into his creative groove—within five poses, he “[projected] 30 drawings of centaurs, bulls, Greek profiles, and his signature.”
These series of exquisite, linear photographs are known as “light drawings,” as the photograph bluntly suggests. Using a set-up of two cameras (for side and frontal views), Mili played around with long exposure shots to enact Picasso’s dramatic movements in space and time. Through photography, Mili captured these instantaneous drawings, which would have otherwise dissipated into the darkness within seconds, without any residual mark.
“Picasso draws centaur in the air” (above) may be the most popular and distributed image, readily available on the web for viewing. The remainder of these images is less familiar to us, because a lot of them were never published in the actual magazine. Take some sit-back time to appreciate the under-recognized gems of this phenomenal artist duo.