Art: Verisimilitude and the Lie that Speaks the Truth (Week 11, Blog 1)




“Art is the lie that tells the truth.” Pablo Picasso

“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.” (The Arts, Picasso Speaks, 1923)

Consider the three portraits and photo that are in your text of Picasso– and or the ones below:
Picasso self 1

Picasso self 2

Picasso Self 3

Considering what Picasso has outlined in his essay, and both the essays by Langer and The Royal Bank of Canada, reflect on the above quotation from Picasso and the nature of artistic truth compared to any of the other truths we’ve been discussing. How is that a “lie” can make us realize a truth? Or as he states, “the truth that we are given to understand?”


9 Responses to “Art: Verisimilitude and the Lie that Speaks the Truth (Week 11, Blog 1)”

  1. 1 brianpolashuk

    I believe that Picasso’s quote that “Art is the lie that tells the truth.” is not saying that art is true. What Picasso is saying is that through analyzing and interpreting art we realize truth, whether it is the emotions of one person or the event during a certain time. The truth that art allows us to find, is what we can understand. Picasso states the importance of looking at what you have found and discovered rather than trying to portray what you are looking for. Picasso makes a reference that art is always to be viewed in the present and is not looked upon as past or future material. I think if looked upon with this perspective it allows people to make connections with their world no matter when they look at it. I think art is a way of expressing some type of feeling that the artist has. When a person critiques the work they take their own meaning that applies and can relate to them. I think it is easier to relate to some pieces of art because people can understand it better because they have experienced the mood. When looking at a picture of a man smiling, many of us would be able to analyze and relate to the feelings of the man. However, none of us actually know what the guy is thinking or what type of state he is in. It would be a lie to say we fully understand this painting. However, through this lie we discover what we feel is true. I think this is an example of art being a lie that makes us realize the truth that we can understand.

  2. In Picasso’s quote I think he is trying to show how everyone looks at art differently, a certain picture can have many different meanings, and not all of them can be the way he wanted it to be interpreted. When one looks at the paintings, they have a certain beliefs and knowing that that picture is in fact a “lie” as picasso states, it shows us and helps us understand what we truly feel and believe it to be. Its not necessarily that whatever anyone sees the painting to be is true, its that what we think it is, it is specifically true to ourselves, not generally true.

  3. 3 vengrove

    I think Picasso’s quote means that art is way for people to find their own truth towards that certain piece. I think it’s however people react to the art and their emotions towards it and how they feel they are connected with it. It’s not like the artist is telling the person what this certain piece means, it gives the opportunity for people to find out how they feel about it themselves and then that is what is true.

  4. I think Picasso’s quote “art is the lie that tells the truth” means that art helps people realize what is true. For a very, very basic example: if an artist draws a picture of the sky, and it’s green, it makes people realize that the sky isn’t green, it’s blue. Granted, everyone has a different idea of what is true and what isn’t, art allows a person to explore their thoughts to find what it really means, by reading between the lines.

  5. 5 jacksonru

    I agree with everyone so far, but most of all Chrislynn. Art is a means of exploring and finding a person’s thoughts and actions.I couldn’t have said it better. Art I believe, is truth to the artist and not necessarily the world. Art is a means of expression and that is one of the things that is so unique about everyone, our expression is so varied. Like Brian said we can only interpret artwork to the best of our ability and hope that it serves us right because we could never really know what the artist was thinking. We can use the works to relate and enlighten, but never to experience because they are not our thoughts or experiences.

  6. I think that Picasso is saying that art cannot portray the truth because of emotion. We read the Naked Face, and the author said in his piece that people can be feeling on emotion and show another. It’s kind of like when you are pissed off and someone asks you “are you okay?” or “what’s wrong?” and you don’t want to talk to them, so you say “nothing” and give them a fake smile. Whether or not your smile looks real.. they may believe you. So a painting can be a portrait of someone smiling, but how do you know that that person’s really feeling happy. The only person who truly knows what the person in the portrait is feeling, is that person being painted.

  7. I agree with what Chrislynn and Vengrove said on the quote, “Art is the lie that tells the truth.” by Pablo Picasso. There are many types of art: music, painting, dance, sculpture, poetry, & photograph, etc. Art can be something that makes no sense, but the people who see it can have reflection that the author is trying to tell. This is what Chrislynn explained, which that I agree. I think painting, sculpture, poetry, and photograph can have this effect. Vengrove said that people can get their own truth out of art. I think this works for music and dance. When we listen to music or watch a dance, we will have different reflections. This means we get different understandings out of the arts. Last time, I was listening to music with my friend. My friend thought that the singer was depressed and I thought that the singer was hopeful. This kind of truth is more like a personal truth.
    Royal Bank of Canada says, “(The purpose of art) is not to help us escape from life but to enter into a larger life” (278). I feel this quote is related to religious truth. The art helps us enter into a larger life, which sounds like the spiritual realm. In religion, there are many types of music that help people to worship God. I guess that author is saying that art can help us to understand God.
    I do not understand what Picasso means by “the truth that we are given to understand?” I am wondering if there is a connection between all types of truths.

  8. 8 moraa

    I think that in picassos quote i think that art is not a truth but rather what we portray the painting or work of art in our own eyes is a truth to us. Rather saying that there is no wrong way of interpreting truth and that art helps us become more confindent on letting us realize that there are truths and a truth can be simply what we see it as.

  9. 9 amelia1993

    Thanks so much for posting that quote, I wanted to post it onto my blog but couldn’t remember what it was exactly. I really like your blog, it’s very perceptive. My blog also follows an art historic theme.

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