A “Mythology of Forms”: Carl Einstein on Picasso
Charles W. Haxthausen
In the art-historical discourse on Picasso the German critic Carl Einstein (1885-1940) has been largely overlooked. What sets him apart from other early commentators on Picasso was his tenacious belief in the transformative agency of artistic form. Visual art, Einstein claimed, determined human seeing, hence a radical change in artistic form had the potential to change human visuality, and by changing human visuality to change human subjectivity and our construction of “the real.” For Einstein, the art of Picasso showed the greatest promise in this regard. In this paper I will focus on Einstein’s evolving Picasso interpretation through the three editions of The Art of the 20th Century and briefly assess its place in the contemporary critical reception of the artist.