I will never forget the first time I ever saw a Picasso painting in real life. The work, Woman in Hat and Fur Collar (1937), was placed on an entirely black wall in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona. It snuck up on me. I didn't expect to see it there, but there it was. The greens, yellows, and reds on the canvas sprung out as if the Woman herself was alive. I don't mean to be cliche, but I swear on my life it took my breath away. As I approached, I felt like I could literally feel Picasso beckoning me forward, to look at the Woman the way he had. I stood there entranced, completely immersed in the painting.
I had never seen the painting before, and it's definitely not one of his best-known works, but instinctively I knew it was Picasso. That's what his work does to you. His style has such a unique presence that you just know.
Looking into who Picasso is though, he, as a human, is nowhere near as enticing as he is as an artist. Picasso royally sucked. His work might've been amazing, but he wasn't the nicest guy. He used women as muses, having affairs with tens if not hundreds. He once told a mistress that "women are machines for suffering".
I don't agree with how Picasso treated women, not in the slightest. But, no one could have painted the way that he did. No one does his style better than him. He paved roads into the worlds of abstract art and cubism that were previously just overgrown weeds.
This brings me to my main question: Do geniuses have the right to blur moral lines just because they are geniuses? Time and time again, we see people who have changed the landscape in art, technology, music, film, dance, sports, and architecture who do questionable things. Does this take away from their craft or the contribution to their respective fields? Should this take away from their contributions? Tonya Harding, for example, was the first woman to successfully land the triple axel in competition. She targeted a fellow skater, breaking her competition's leg. Should her actions take away from the fact that she still broke a record? Should we stop admiring Picasso's art because he was a terribly misogynistic man?
Maybe the answer lies within the essence of human nature. No person can be perfect in every form. Legends of Picasso's caliber have talents that literally no other people have. Maybe the fact that Picasso had great flaws, brings into play how every single one of us, no matter how smart, talented, creative, or beautiful, are flawed.
Or maybe the answer lies within the idea that we can do better. We shouldn't cut people slack for being crappy people just because they're talented.
I can't help but think of how I felt when I saw that first Picasso painting before me and I've come up with this answer.
I don't know.