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Monday, 4 September, 2000, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Migraine theory on Picasso paintings
Pablo Picasso
Picasso: Never complained of migraines
By arts correspondent Razia Iqbal

A leading Dutch neurologist is suggesting that the Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso, painted the way he did because he suffered from bizarre visual migraines.


I paint forms as a I think and not as I see

Pablo Picasso
Picasso's vision of the world has from the beginning of his fame been caricatured by cartoonists as odd.

But it was in the late 1930s that his work took a radical turn from what had come before.

The Weeping Woman (1937)
The Weeping Woman is seen as a response to the Spanish civil war
With his series of paintings called The Weeping Woman and the Portrait of Woman with Hat, Picasso established himself as the painter who most challenged how we look at the world - and in particular, the human face.

Those paintings were the first in which Picasso painted portraits with the faces fractured along a vertical line, so that one eye is higher than the other, with ears and eyes disproportioned and distorted.

Migraine art

The Dutch neurologist, Michel Ferrari, who is presenting a paper at an international conference, conducted research in which migraine sufferers drew pictures of what they saw during an attack.

Doctor Ferrari says these were extremely similar to Picasso's paintings from the late 1930s period.

He describes what sufferers told him as a vertical splitting in their perception of rooms and faces.

Picasso himself, who never professed to having any migraines, famously said: "I paint forms as a I think and not as I see".

Art history attributes the inspiration of these works to various sources, among them, African tribal art.

In specific cases, such as the Weeping Woman, the painting is viewed as a response to the suffering of Spain during the civil war.

According to one critic, the distortions in the woman's face are a reflection of pain, of the times being out of joint.

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See also:

10 May 00 | Americas
Picasso fetches $28.6m
28 Oct 98 | Europe
Picasso works sell for millions
13 Mar 99 | Europe
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