“Art Is a Lie That Brings Us Nearer to the Truth” (Pablo Picasso)

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Art is different from most areas of knowledge primarily in terms of its objective and also the means by which it reflects, transforms and expresses them. For art, like philosophy, reflects the reality in its relationship with man, and represents the latter, his spiritual world, and the relations between the individuals and their interactions with the world. Pablo Picasso was known for representing his work in a non-realistic manner. However, the audience could relate to his works; Guernica is an example of his success, since it represented the tragedies of war, which the audience could sympathize with. Hence, we shall ask if by distorting our perception to reality, how art is a lie and how it brings us nearer to the truth? As a result, we will discuss three main points of the Picasso’s quote; art, lies and reality. Then, this will be highlighted with the effect of art in Ethics and, through pertinent examples; we will emphasize the distinction between ethics and art. Finally, we will analyze Picasso’s quote in relation to literature and visual art in contrast to his art. Firstly, how can we assess this quote in relation to art? And what does Picasso mean by the lies and the truth? First, we need to understand that art is an imitation of reality. Indeed, Picasso was an impressionist who produced this imitation with his cubist methods, which was a new form of art as a development of illusionism, and this was the reason why Picasso had denounced art as a lie. On the other hand, the full quote from Picasso was: We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. (Zayas) Indeed, not only did Picasso distinguish that the artist had to make art seem like a lie that helped us come nearer to the truth, but he also knew that the arts had to do this in a way that the latter’s manipulation would give the...
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