worked on the painting in at least two stages
starting in the winter of 1906–07, completing
it sometime in the summer of 1907. In an effort
to explain the astonishing painting, some contemporary
critics—notably the artist's dealer, Daniel-Henry
Kahnweiler—maintained that the work remained
unfinished. Art historians now argue otherwise.
As Robert Rosenblum writes, "Its very inconsistency
is an integral part of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.
The irrepressible energy behind its creation demanded
a vocabulary of change and impulse rather than
of measured statement in a style already articulated.
The breathless tempo of this pregnant historical
movement virtually obligated its first masterpiece
to carry within itself the very process of artistic
evolution." (Rosenblum, Cubism and Twentieth
Century Art, p. 16).
Of all the paintings in Picasso's oeuvre, Les
Demoiselles d'Avignon presents a singular challenge
for interpreting its physical composition as well as
its psychological content due to its scale, composition,
and change in pictorial style. A close examination of
this transitional painting and a comparison with some
closely related works allows us to better understand
how the painting was conceived and executed.