In Picasso's Demoiselles, eminent art historian Suzanne Preston Blier uncovers the previously unknown history of Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, one of the twentieth century's most important, celebrated, and studied paintings. Drawing on her expertise in African art and newly discovered sources, Blier reads the painting not as a simple bordello scene but as Picasso's interpretation of the diversity of representations of women from around the world that he encountered in photographs and sculptures. These representations are central to understanding the painting's creation and help identify the demoiselles as global figures, mothers, grandmothers, lovers, and sisters, as well as part of the colonial world Picasso inhabited. Simply put, Blier fundamentally transforms what we know about this revolutionary and iconic work.
Suzanne Preston Blier is Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and the author and editor of numerous books, including Art and Risk in Ancient Yoruba: Ife History, Power, and Identity c. 1300.