Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was famous, among his many other achievements, for his portraits of sad women. He painted most of them in the 1930s when his girlfriend was Dora Maar, a woman who (as he said himself) “always cried”.
By far the best known and most popular Picasso portrait in this genre is his 1937 Weeping Woman. It certainly does express sadness, and also confusion. Maybe desperation, too. But does it show depression?
As your homework for today, I want you to compare it with a much earlier Picasso: his 1906 youth work Head of a Woman. Comparing these two portraits can beautifully illustrate something I’ve tried to emphasize here already a few times before:
the difference between sadness and depression.
Please do not get distracted by the obvious difference in style between the two paintings. Focus on what they show, what they try to convey. Colors? Tears? Yes, but there is more. You really should do this homework yourself. Just take a few minutes to fully concentrate on what you see. Allow both women to penetrate into your mind.
Which one of the two is truly depressed? And, the most important thing: exactly why do you think so? Try very carefully and precisely to put that into words. This will tell you something.
To help you concentrating on your homework, I’ll provide a fitting accompaniment: the Spanish (Mexican) folk song La Llorona, “The Weeping Woman”. There’s some homework here, too. The same kind of difference, although probably a little bit more subtle.
If you click the play button, my patented Depression Music Player will first play La Llorona by Joan Baez for you, followed by La Llorona by Tish Hinojosa. Can you make the connection between the two paintings and the two songs?
(if the player does not work, install Flash)
One of my related posts: Grief Is Not Depression.
By the way, did you know Picasso’s full name? Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. Given the primitive computer technology of that time, this is the true reason why he could never get a credit card or a passport… ;-)