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STRAVINSKY AND PICASSO: COLLABORATORS, INNOVATORS, CREATORS

Nathan Cornelius
Introduction to Graduate Studies
March 15, 2013
1

Igor Stravinsky and Pablo Picasso were two of the outstanding creative geniuses of the
twentieth century, one being perhaps the leading composer of the era, the other widely
recognized as the greatest painter of his day. These two great artists were also good friends for
a significant part of their careers, together at the center of an amazingly fecund artistic scene in
Paris and Rome in the 1910s and 1920s. This paper will review the relationship between
Picasso and Stravinsky, including their association with Serge Diaghilevs Ballets Russes and
collaboration on Diaghilevs production of Pulcinella; examine Stravinskys musical style as
possibly analogous to Picassos Cubism in its use of concepts such as primitivism, collage,
simultaneity, and relativity; and finally explore the fascinating parallels between the two artists
creative outlooks and career arcs, notably their ability to reinvent themselves in new styles.
Given Stravinskys deep interest in the visual arts throughout his life, it is not surprising
that he should make close friends in that field as well as his own. Indeed, the list of painters
and sculptors with whom he was acquainted reads like an art history textbook: Rodin,
Modigliani, Monet, Kandinsky, Giacometti, Delaunay, Leger, Chagall, Brancusi, Braque, and
Rouault.
1
(Stravinskys second wife, Vera de Bosset, was an abstract painter, and the couple
would often discuss each others latest work.
2
) Stravinskys interest in art was strengthened by
a circle of Russian colleagues centered on ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev and his journal The
World of Art, which had from its inception at the turn of the century nurtured
interdisciplinary associations.
3
As Alexandre Benois, a fellow member of the Diaghilev circle,

1
Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft, Conversations with Igor Stravinsky (London: Faber and Faber, 1959), 86-91, 101-
103.
2
Vera Stravinsky and Robert Craft, Stravinsky in Pictures and Documents (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978),
424-426.
3
Howard Gardner, Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso,
Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 268.
2

noted, The ballet is one of the most consistent and complete expressions of the idea of the
Gesamtkunstwerk, the idea for which our circle was ready to give its soul.
4
Benois also
remarked on Stravinskys cult of the theatre and his interest in the plastic arts. Unlike most
musicians, who are usually quite indifferent to everything that is not within their sphere,
Stravinsky was deeply interested in painting, architecture, and sculpture.
5
Although Stravinsky
was clearly interested in modern art during his early years in Russia, he did not encounter it
firsthand until his 1910 trip to Paris, the center of the artworld at that time, during which he
was so struck by Picassos paintings that he purchased two of them.
6
Stravinsky also indicated
in his correspondence from those years that he was aware of Picassos work.
7

However, Stravinsky did not actually meet Picasso for seven more years, after Stravinsky
had become a celebrity with the Ballets Russes productions of his Firebird, Rite of Spring, and
Petrushka in Paris. Eugenia Errazuriz, a patron of both Stravinsky and Picasso, had encouraged
Stravinsky to make Picassos acquaintance, adding, one day . . . you must collaborate with him.
What a genius! As great as you are, cher maitre.
8
They finally met not in Paris, but in Rome in
March 1917, where Picasso was working on the sets for the Ballets Russes production of
Parade with playwright Jean Cocteau and composer Erik Satie, while Stravinsky was about to
conduct some of his works at a concert organized by Diaghilev.
9
The Russian Revolution had
occurred just a few weeks earlier, and so the performance opened not, as usual, with God

4
Alexandre Benois, Reminiscences of the Russian Ballet, trans. Mary Britinieva (London: Putnam, 1941), 370-371.
5
Ibid., 302.
6
Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft, Expositions and Developments (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1962), 29.
7
Glenn Watkins, Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994), 230.
8
V. Stravinsky and Craft, 181.
9
Andr Boucourechliev, Stravinsky, trans. Martin Cooper (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1987), 120; Arianna
Stassinopoulos Huffington, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), 149; Igor
Stravinsky, An Autobiography (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1962), 66.
3

Save the Tsar, since there was no longer a Tsar to save, but with Stravinskys orchestration of
the The Song of the Volga Boatmen,
10
for which Picasso gladly contributed the cover art.
11

During Stravinskys stay in Rome, Diaghilev also organized an exhibition of cubist and futurist
pictures by his friends and collaborators at a reception for Stravinsky.
12

When the Ballets moved on to Naples, the two artists took the opportunity to explore
the city together, lingering especially at the aquarium.
13
Significantly for their later work, they
attended a traditional commedia dellarte show in a crowded little room reeking of garlic. The
Pulcinella was a great drunken lout whose every gesture, and probably every word if I had
understood, was obscene.
14
On another occasion, Stravinsky and Picasso were both arrested
one night for urinating against a wall of the Galleria but were released when the police
realized who they were.
15

When Stravinsky returned to his home in Switzerland later that spring, he took with him
a portrait of himself by Picasso (Figure 1). While this portrait was not an esoteric Cubist work
but rather a simple line drawing, easily recognizable as Stravinsky, it nevertheless drew the
suspicion of the border police at Italian customs. Stravinsky recalled that nothing in the world
would induce them to let it pass. . . . It is not a portrait but a plan, they said. Yes, the plan of
my face, but of nothing else, I replied.
16
Finally, Stravinsky was able to get the portrait sent to
him via the British ambassador in Rome, but he ended up missing his train because of the delay
at customs. Another picture by Picasso produced better results for the composer, as his

10
Huffington, 149.
11
Stravinsky and Craft, Conversations with Igor Stravinsky, 104.
12
Stravinsky, Autobiography, 67.
13
Ibid., 67.
14
Stravinsky and Craft, Conversations with Igor Stravinsky, 105.
15
Ibid., 105.
16
Stravinsky, Autobiography, 68.
4

drawing, consisting of a single line, appeared as the cover of the first edition of Stravinskys
Rag-Time (Figure 2).
17

During the war years, Stravinsky had collaborated with impresarios other than Diaghilev
on his new productions Renard and The Soldiers Tale, and in 1920, he was initially reluctant to
join another new project with the Ballets Russes.
18
Diaghilev, however, insisted that Stravinsky
should arrange music by Italian Baroque composer G. B. Pergolesi for the ballet Pulcinella,
based on the traditional Neapolitan commedia dellarte shows that Stravinsky and Picasso had
seen in Naples. Finally, Stravinsky recalls, he was persuaded by Diaghilevs proposal that I
should work with Picasso, who was to do the scenery and the costumes and whose art was
particularly near and dear to me, [and] recollection of our walks together and the impression
of Naples we had shared.
19
As Stravinsky told Robert Craft, Picasso accepted the commission
to design the dcors for the same reason that I agreed to arrange the musicfor the fun of it
and Diaghilev was as shocked with his set as he was with my sounds.
20
Actually, shocked
was an understatement; Diaghilev completely rejected Picassos original concept for the sets
(Figures 3-4) and costumes (Figures 5-6), persuading him to use a more traditional commedia
dellarte style instead.
21
After the premiere, all those involved in the production celebrated at
the home of a Persian aristocrat. As the festivities continued late into the night, a drunken
Stravinsky started a pillow fight among the guests.
22


17
Eric Walter White, Stravinsky: The Composer and his Works, 2
nd
ed. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1979), 67.
18
Ibid., 282.
19
Ibid., 286.
20
Stravinsky and Craft, Expositions and Developments, 116.
21
Stravinsky and Craft, Conversations with Igor Stravinsky, 105; Boucourechliev, 140; Huffington, 168-169.
22
Boucourechliev, 141; Huffington, 170.
5

The coincidence of *choreographer+ Massines interest in a commedia dellarte ballet at
the precise moment when Diaghilev himself was planning an Italian project may have sparked
the conception of Pulcinella. It should be noted, however, that Diaghilev had already
envisioned . . . matching Picassos affection for clowns and commedia characters, already well
documented in his art, with the music of Pergolesi, which Diaghilev had discovered in libraries
in Naples and London. Whether Diaghilevs search for a composer for Pulcinella led him directly
to Stravinsky is not clear. Diaghilev was, however, interested in bringing Stravinsky back in the
fold of the Ballets Russes after Stravinsky had pursued several theatrical projects without
them.
23
As with all Ballets Russes productions, Pulcinella was a collaboration between several
notable artists, and Diaghilev deserved much credit for bringing it all together. Indeed, *t+he
success and artistic notoriety achieved by the Ballets Russes between the years 1909 and 1929
were due primarily to Diaghilevs genius in perceiving the particular talents and sympathies of
the artists in his circle and bringing the most appropriate of these to each project.
24

Stravinsky viewed the project as a successful example of the Gesamtkunstwerk principle
which he loved, reflecting that Pulcinella is one of those productionsand they are rare
where everything harmonizes, where all the elementssubject, music, dancing, and artistic
settingform a coherent and homogeneous whole. . . . As for Picasso, he worked miracles, and
I find it difficult to decide what was most enchantingthe coloring, the design, or the amazing
inventiveness of this remarkable man.
25
Similarly, Benois felt that Stravinskys idea of
blending Pergoleses *sic+ music that he loved with a kind of mockery of it was supremely

23
Marilyn Meeker, Putting Punch in Pulcinella: Picasso, Massine, and Stravinsky, Dance Magazine 55, no. 4 (April
1981): 79.
24
Ibid., 76.
25
Stravinsky, Autobiography, 85.
6

successful *and+ Picassos rather absurdly constructed and negligently painted dcor, together
with his costumes, reminiscent of street acrobats, was in full sympathy with the music.
26
For
his part, Picasso also counted Pulcinella as his favorite Ballets Russes project.
27

Marilyn Meeker notes that most Ballets Russes productions were either revivals of
forgotten works by earlier composers or innovative statements of contemporary art. The
revival ballet pure and simple had been transformed in Pulcinella into ballet as contemporary
statement on revival. The simple pastiche of the eighteenth-century aesthetic had been
expanded into a twentieth-century theatric collage of simultaneous contrasting styles.
28
As
Stravinsky told Robert Craft, Pulcinella was my discovery of the past, the epiphany through
which the whole of my late work became possible. It was a backward look of course . . . but it
was a look in the mirror, too.
29
These themes of collage and of discovering the past are
extremely important for understanding the works of both Stravinsky and Picasso.
At their initial meeting in Rome, Picasso, who loved to sketch his friends, had been
particularly fascinated by the face of Stravinsky, with his thick lips, bull-fiddle nose and
protruding ears,
30
and he immediately set to work on caricaturing the composer in his
sketchbook. In addition to the drawing that caused Stravinsky so much trouble at Italian
customs, Picasso made two more portraits of Stravinsky in 1920 (Figure 7). The artist-subject
relationship ran both ways, however, as Stravinsky also drew his own fragmentary portrait of
Picasso (Figure 8).
31
After 1920 and the successful production of Pulcinella, the two artists

26
Benois, 379.
27
Meeker, 76.
28
Ibid., 80.
29
Stravinsky and Craft, Expositions and Developments, 128-29.
30
Huffington, 149.
31
Stravinsky and Craft, Conversations with Igor Stravinsky, 65.
7

began to go their separate ways, both creatively and personally. Stravinsky told a Spanish
newspaper in 1936, Both of us are solitaires, essentially, and we run into each other only from
time to time. Nonetheless, he professed to admire *Picasso+ in all his tendencies; he is always
and consistently a great artist.
32
By 1964, after two decades in America, Stravinskys opinion
of Picasso had dimmed slightly (perhaps due to the painters tendency towards narcissism) but
remained admiring; as Stravinsky jotted in his copy of a biography of Picasso, Picasso is a
monster, who at times, nevertheless, is right.
33

Stravinskys relationship with Picasso went beyond the personal level, however; it is
possible that Picasso influenced Stravinskys compositional style in some way. At the very least,
Stravinskys music from his Russian period (i.e., the 1910s and 20s) seems to have numerous
stylistic parallels with the Cubism that Picasso was articulating in art at the same time. There
was a general acknowledgment of the close relationship between music and art in the early
twentieth century: In the nineteenth century music had come to be regarded as queen of the
arts because of its non-imitative qualities, and throughout the Cubist period musical analogies
become increasingly frequent. With the emergence of abstract painting many felt that painting
had become completely musicalized.
34
This cross-fertilization between music and art was
evident in Stravinskys music in several ways.
First, Picasso and Stravinsky both drew from Primitivism, a movement which broke with
traditional European notions of beauty and sought aesthetic inspiration in the art of primitive
cultures or of ancient times. As Glenn Watkins brilliantly explains,

32
V. Stravinsky and Craft, 327.
33
Ibid., 183.
34
John Golding, Cubism: A History and an Analysis 1907-1914, 3
rd
ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1988), 20.
8

a significant part of the twentieth-century cultural explosion, which would ultimately
require reconstitution through collage, involved an obsession not so much with
primitive societies of a distant past as with the search for an energizing authority in two
equally elusive modelsone involving outreach to geographically distant shores densely
impacted with legend, and another which sought to forward the mechanisms of modern
society and everyday life as contemporary counterparts to ancient ritual.
35


Obviously, Stravinskys evocation of prehistoric ritual in The Rite of Spring is an example of the
latter kind of primitivism, while Picassos equally groundbreaking Demoiselles dAvignon (Figure
9) was inspired by African masks exhibited in Paris. Both Picasso and Stravinsky also dealt in
Primitivsm by appropriating certain elements from Japanese art, with Stravinsky composing
Three Japanese Lyrics, of which he said, the graphic solution of problems in perspective and
space shown by *Japanese+ art incited me to find something analogous in music.
36

Thus, Stravinsky created his distinctive style not so much through the appropriation of
ingredients from a particular historical or cultural model as through their fracture and
purposeful reassemblage.
37

Whether in allusions to African sculpture . . . that prized conceptual rudimentariness
over perceptual beauty; whether in the formal appropriation of a trenchant haiku or a
Chinese ideogram . . . whether in the arrangement of folk tunes or other derivative
material shorn from anthologies as though they were prized discoveries from a field dig;
or in the deconstructed guitars and clarinets, beverage and tobacco labels, as well as in
the cropping of newsprint into chunks that resonated like recently discovered relics
from a previous age; the ideal model for a new foundation was hypothesized.
38


As mentioned above, collage, or cut-and-paste, is another important stylistic element in
both Picassos art and Stravinskys music. Picasso and his friend Georges Braque used collage
heavily in the period known as Synthetic Cubism (approximately 1912-1914precisely the

35
Watkins, 5.
36
White, 218.
37
Watkins, 3.
38
Ibid., 5.
9

same time Stravinsky was composing Petrushka and The Rite of Spring). As the name suggests,
cut-and-paste denotes the physical actions of cutting a piece of paper of other material and
affixing [it] to another surface, juxtaposing and arranging it with any number of other items.
The most straightforward examples of cut-and-paste are Picassos papier colls . . . such as
Guitar, Sheet Music, and Wineglass.
39
(Figure 10) As mentioned above, music and musical
instruments were favorite motifs of Picassos in these Synthetic Cubist works. Rather than
removing all representational content from his art (as Kandinsky and Mondrian did), Picasso
took fragments of realistic imagery (or even real objects) and subsumed them into a larger
whole governed by abstract design principles. Similarly, Stravinsky, in a number of his Russian
and neoclassical compositions, replaces the more conventional diatonic means of sonic
representation with the octatonic collection. The traditional diatonic procedures do not
disappear, but become a product of the octatonic.
40

Stravinskys music (especially the Petrushka and The Rite of Spring) also uses collage as a
formal principle in its juxtaposition of dissimilar musical elements ([from] sections of music to
a works basic motives, melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic), arranging them in a such a way that
a coherent music composition results. There are two different types of juxtaposition: 1) side-
by-side, where two different sections of music are pasted next to each other; and, 2)
simultaneous, where two different strands of music are heard at the same time.
41
Stravinsky
first used this technique of juxtaposing contrasting blocks of music in the first tableau of

39
Carl Kristian Wiens, Igor Stravinsky and Agon, Ph. D. diss., University of Michigan, 1997, in ProQuest
Dissertations and Theses, 44.
40
Ibid., 59.
41
Ibid., 47.
10

Petrushka,
42
where it effectively depicts the chaos and bustle of the Shrovetide fair and the
various characters inhabiting it. The Rite of Spring also exhibits
the technically adroit use of metric dislocation and polytonal juxtaposition of diatonic
scraps fragmented from Russian folktunes. Unlike the melodies in Petrushka, however,
these were now so partial or reconstituted that Stravinsky in later years was able to
deny their origins altogether. In their fleeting resemblance to familiar material as well
as in their incompleteness Stravinsky promoted a direct analogy with the collage
assemblages of the Cubists.
43


Stravinsky continued to use this block technique in the later works of his Russian
period, as well. Jonathan Cross compares Stravinskys Symphonies of Wind Instruments to
Picassos cubist drawing Standing Female Nude, in which geometric lines and arcs
intersect in such a way as to produce a pattern of repeating shapes . . . which are never
identical. . . . Stravinskys Symphonies of Wind Instruments similarly articulates musical
time by means of three basic (related) tempi which intersect . . . in such a way as to
produce a pattern of repeating shapes, none of which is identical. . . . In the Picasso a
variety of planes, individually characterized, are thus produced, the movement from one
to the next forming the drawings primary subject matter. In the Stravinsky a variety of
musical blocks, individually characterized, are similarly produced, the movement from
one to the next forming the works primary subject matter. In both works, there is no
obvious transition from one plane/block to the next: in other words, they proceed at
an immediate level by means of opposition.
44


Similarly, in Les Noces, Stravinsky places adjacent to each other distinct sections of music, each
of which differs greatly [from the others] in instrumentation, register, and texture. . . .
Throughout the longer sections, the listener is aware of a constant repetitionwith only the
slightest changewithin the blocks.
45
And in Pulcinella, the simultaneity of the musical
effectsmodern and traditionaloffered a multi-dimensional juxtaposition which matched

42
Jonathan Cross, The Stravinsky Legacy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 29.
43
Watkins, 234.
44
Cross, 19.
45
Shirley Krug McKamie, Three Cubist Portraits: An Examination of the Related Aspects of Time Manipulation and
Amorality within Gertrude Stein's Word Portrait Picasso (1909), Pablo Picasso's Portrait of Daniel-Henry
Kahnweiler (1910), and Igor Stravinsky's Portrait of a Peasant Bride in the First Tableau of Les Noces (1917),
masters thesis, Truman State University, 1999, in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 104, 107.
11

Picassos placement of traditional Neapolitan costuming against cubistic sets and Massines
mixture of comic gesture and popular dance styles with classical ballet technique.
46

Stravinsky and Picasso also shared a propensity to challenge traditional notions of space
and time in their work, replacing them with multiple viewpoints and the simultaneity of
disparate events.
47
As Tom Gordon observes,
In painting, the positioning of objects typically implies a spatial relationship that in turn
may suggest temporal values. In the twentieth century, however, numerous forces have
conspired to attempt a new depiction of time on the canvas and to flirt with the notion
of portraying dislocations in time as well as simultaneity on a two-dimensional surface.
The first approaches to Cubism around 1908 were fundamentally centered on an
investigation of this very issue.
48


These developments were inspired in part by contemporary developments in science,
notably Einsteins theory of relativity, which implied that space and time were not absolute but
relative to each other. Einsteins concept of malleable time was a tremendous impetus to
cubist experimentation.
49

The agencies of polychords, polytonality, and polystylistic reference as employed by the
composers in promoting illusions in space and time during the first years of the century
reflect a powerful and universal concern. Proust, Bergson, Picasso, Cendrars,
Delaunaythey all pondered the imponderability of nonlinear time and intimated their
suspicion that the answers were to be found not in science but in art.
50


In an attempt to find these answers, Picasso and Braque (especially in the period known as
Analytic Cubism, 1908-1911) depicted objects from multiple angles in the same picture,
creating a hazy, ambiguous spatial context around them. This multifaceted depiction of space

46
Meeker, 80.
47
Tom Gordon, The Cubist Metaphor: Picasso in Stravinsky Criticism, Current Musicology 40 (1985): 28.
48
Watkins, 216-217.
49
McKamie, 113.
50
Watkins, 226.
12

implied a corresponding progression through time, as a certain amount of time would be
necessary for an observer to move to the different viewpoints that make up the image.
Stravinskys use of contrasting blocks in music accomplished a similar result: in his
flagrant shearing of prior definitions of musical space and time, he proclaimed a new and
joltingly ambiguous terrain demonstrably akin to the reassessment of the visual plane.
51
The
Cubist art critic Ricciotto Canudo wrote in Montjoie! magazine in 1914 that Stravinsky partakes
of our aesthetic, of Cubism, of synchronism, of . . . simultaneity.
52
Lon Oleggini also sees
Stravinskys music as
the first application of a relativist or Einsteinian conception of space and time to the
arts. . . . As Picasso realized three [or four] dimensions in two without illusion . . .
Stravinsky achieved a musical past, present, and future (previously dependent on the
roles of memory and anticipation in the psychological perception of music) within the
ontological now.
53


Perhaps the most telling parallel between Stravinskys musical style and Picassos
Cubism comes from the composers own hand. In his published Conversations with Igor
Stravinsky, Robert Craft asked Stravinsky to draw a graphical representation of his music;
Stravinsky drew a collection of dots connected into a twisted figure by straight lines intersecting
at various angles (Figure 11).
54
This drawing bears a striking resemblance to Picassos
schematic renderings of musical instruments from 1924 (Figure 12).
55
It is impossible to say
whether Stravinskys acquaintance withand admiration forPicasso influenced his own
musical style, or whether he discovered musical Cubism independently of his painter friend.
Either way, it is clear that the two geniuses accomplished similar innovations in their respective

51
Ibid., 234.
52
Golding, 23.
53
Gordon, 28.
54
Stravinsky and Craft, Conversations with Igor Stravinsky, 108.
55
Watkins, 270-271.
13

disciplines and, in so doing, both reflected and profoundly shaped the cultural ethos of the
twentieth century.
The similarities between Picasso and Stravinsky go even beyond their personal styles at
the time they met. For both artists, their styles continued to evolve over time and followed
similar arcs over the course of their careers. Howard Gardner, who has compared the creativity
of several great innovators of the modern world, including Picasso and Stravinsky, in his book
Creating Minds, summarizes many of the salient parallels between their lives:
The two men were born a year apart, both of them somewhat outside the orbit of
mainstream Western European culture. Both gravitated to and made their first major
splashes in Paris in the early 1900s, with Picasso more precocious than Stravinsky. Their
most determinedly avant-garde works were produced in the years just before the Great
War, with Picasso working alongside Braque, and Stravinsky immersed in the world of
the Ballets Russes. During the war both tread water to a certain extent, with Picasso
also meeting his first wife, who interestingly enough, turned out to be a member of the
Ballets Russes. Then, around the end of the war, both men embraced a middle-class life
in Paris and moved into a neoclassical phase of creation, during which each was quite
cognizant of what the other was doing.
56


Both Picasso and Stravinsky rose to fame with an initial, radical breakthrough in Les Demoiselles
dAvignon and The Rite of Spring and followed with a less radical, but more comprehensive,
breakthrough about a decade later in Guernica and Les Noces, respectively.
57

These remarkable parallels are, of course, due in part to a common cultural setting, with
both men spending much time in Paris in the 1910s and 20s. It is possible, nonetheless, that
internal factorsthe artists own creative temperamentswere responsible for their mirroring
creative paths. First of all, both Stravinsky and Picasso were clearly formalists in their
aesthetics. Stravinsky is well-known for saying that music, is by its very nature, powerless to

56
Gardner, 216.
57
Ibid., 370; White, 62.
14

express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a
phenomenon of nature, etc.
58
As Stravinsky remarked to Craft,
what a Picasso or a Stravinsky has to say about music is of no value whatever from that
side. . . . The composer works through a perceptual, not a conceptual, process. He
perceives, he selects, he combines, and he is not in the least aware at what point
meaning of a different sort and significance grow into his work. All he knows or cares
about is his apprehension of the contour of the form, for the form is everything. He can
say nothing whatever about meanings.
59


According to Gordon, Stravinsky and Picasso wanted to replace arts illusion of physical
or emotional description with the objective reality of the work itself. . . . In place of moving the
listener . . . Stravinsky and Picasso offered a new formalism.
60
Gordon quotes contemporary
critic Boris de Schloezer: The painter *and+ the sculptor, as a rule, start with reality and
transmute it; Picasso works on something that has already been transmuted, on pictorial forms
which he reorganizes. Stravinsky operates similarly in his field[;] he creates with something
that has already been created.
61
The result was that Stravinsky and Picasso produced works
devoid of explicit expressive intent and yet paradoxically capable of a greater, more profound
intensity of expression. This intensity of expression resulted from a formalistic rather than
descriptive orientation in the work, one where elements of sound and image were free to
attain their own value. The work itself was pure, an object unto itself.
62

This belief in the intrinsic value of the artistic elements of a work had profound
consequences for Stravinskys and Picassos development as artists. Both men seemed to be
constantly reinventing their styles over their careers, surprising their audiences with each new

58
Stravinsky, Autobiography, 53.
59
Stravinsky and Craft, Expositions and Developments, 116.
60
Gordon, 25-26.
61
Ibid., 27.
62
Ibid., 27.
15

work. The recurring surprise resulted from the artists attitude that each new work was a
problem to be solved, a problem that set its own terms and determined a unique solution. . . .
For both Stravinsky and Picasso, this approach was the only sure antidote to the habits that a
lingering romanticism had ingrained in the creative process.
63
This denial of the habits of
creation had as its intent the rejection of one of the most fundamental conventions of all the
arts: that the work of art is itself a metaphor for some element of physical or psychological
reality.
64
Thus, Stravinsky and Picassos belief in formalism over expressionism, combined with
their technical mastery of their medium, freed them to work in whatever style best suited their
sonic or visual materials.
Gardner also notes how the two creators cultural background may have fueled their
drive to avoid becoming conventional in their workeven according to the conventions of a
style that they themselves had invented. Coming from countries on the fringe of Europe and
living as exile in Paris, both Stravinsky and Picasso were culturally somewhat marginal, and they
used this marginality as a leverage in work. . . . Whenever they risked becoming members of
the establishment, they would again shift course to attain at least intellectual marginality. . . .
Picasso and Stravinsky renounced first the mainstream artistic heritage and, in later decades,
their own unrelenting departures from it.
65

One of the primary ways Stravinsky and Picasso moved beyond their own innovations
was through dialogue with artists of the past. Shortly after the time of their collaboration,
beginning in the 1920s, both artists entered a period often described as Neoclassical. In this

63
Ibid., 24.
64
Ibid., 25.
65
Gardner, 368.
16

period, both artists found pleasure and stimulus in recalling earlier masterpieces by other
artists (e.g., Grunewald, Cranach, Velasquez, Ingres etc. Gesualdo, Pergolesi, Bach,
[T]chaikovsky, etc.).
66
As mentioned previously, Pulcinella was a seminal work for Stravinsky in
this regard, and his comment that It was a backward look, . . . but it was a look in the mirror,
too
67
is revealing, as this collaborative project showed him the path to finding himself in the
works of past composers. A similar shift occurred in Picassos work around the time of
Pulcinella, too, as Picassos reintroduction of the figure and perspective confirmed a
Neoclassical realignment of the forces of Cubism. The fracture of analytic Cubism that had
been partially healed in the synthetic phase around 1912-1914 was now subject to a new
degree of integration.
68

Gardner surmises that, for such a brazen innovator as Stravinsky or Picasso, because
one has already made a decisive break with the past, it is no longer perceived as a crushing
weight. . . . I submit that for Stravinsky and Picasso the opportunity to engage in a stimulating
and sustaining dialectic with the past was one of the prime reasons each could contribute
creatively for so long. Reworking and learning from the past, they discovered further
dimensions of their own voices.
69

Earlier in his life, Stravinsky received needed cognitive and affective support from
Diaghilev and Roerich, as well as from members of his tight-knit ensemble. In the
absence of such support, Stravinsky might well have been unable to break away from
the Rimsky-Korsakov mode of Fireworks and The Firebird and develop the more
innovative languages of Le sacre and Les noces. During his middle years, Stravinsky
enjoyed the support of a wide circle of friends and followers; but, like Picasso, he seems

66
White, 63.
67
Stravinsky and Craft, Expositions and Developments, 129.
68
Watkins, 274.
69
Gardner, 216.
17

to have conducted his neoclassical experimentation in conversation with his
redoubtable predecessors as much as with his illustrious contemporaries.
70


Picasso likewise seems to have felt a closer connection to the old masters than to any of his
contemporaries besides Matisse.
71

Hans Keller, in his essay Stravinsky Heard, notes that Stravinskys continued evolution
of style eventually brought him back into contact with his contemporaries when he embarked
on serial compositions in the 1950s. *I+n Stravinsky, Schoenbergs twelve-tone method
eventually produced one of those profound changes of creative mind of which no other great
creator, with the possible exception of Picasso, has ever been capable.
72
Nonetheless,
Stravinsky and Picasso were very rare in their ability to identify with the work of others without
weakening their own creative voice.
Ordinary artistic development always starts with identification: while the composers
creative ego is still weak, he identifies himself with his teachers and with older masters,
and proceeds to imitate them. . . . Alone amongst geniuses, again with the possible
exception of Picasso, Stravinsky actually developed his capacity for identification
together with the unfolding of his intense originality.
73


In conclusion, it is clear Stravinsky and Picasso were more than just coincidental friends
and collaborators. They were, perhaps, the greatest innovators of the twentieth century in
their respective domains, as they explored revolutionary new Cubist notions of fragmented
space and time through their work. Their formalist aesthetics, however, led them to embrace
each new work on its own terms, so that their styles continued to evolve even after they had
achieved recognition and success. In both cases, this evolution led them back to the past, as

70
Ibid., 224-225.
71
Ibid., 379.
72
Hans Keller, Stravinsky Heard, in Hans Keller and Milein Cosman, Stravinsky the Music-Maker: Writings, Prints,
and Drawings, ed. Martin Anderson (London: Toccata Press, 2010), 127.
73
Ibid., 129.
18

they sought themselves in the works of the old masters, a journey sparked by their joint
exploration of eighteenth-century music and traditional commedia dellarte in Pulcinella.
Although their collaboration with each other and with Diaghilevs Ballets Russes was
temporary, its effects were incredibly fruitful, lasting for the rest of their careers and leaving a
permanent mark on the history of twentieth-century art and music.
19

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Putnam, 1941.

Boucourechliev, Andr. Stravinsky. Translated by Martin Cooper. New York: Holmes and Meier,
1987.

Cross, Jonathan. The Stravinsky Legacy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Gardner, Howard. Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud,
Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

Golding, John. Cubism: A History and an Analysis 1907-1914. 3
rd
ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1988.

Gordon, Tom. The Cubist Metaphor: Picasso in Stravinsky Criticism. Current Musicology 40
(1985): 22-33.

Huffington, Arianna Stassinopoulos. Picasso: Creator and Destroyer. New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1988.

Keller, Hans. Stravinsky Heard. In Hans Keller and Milein Cosman, Stravinsky the Music-
Maker: Writings, Prints, and Drawings, edited by Martin Anderson, 126-166. London:
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McKamie, Shirley Krug. Three Cubist Portraits: An Examination of the Related Aspects of Time
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Meeker, Marilyn. Putting Punch in Pulcinella: Picasso, Massine, and Stravinsky. Dance
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20

Stravinsky, Igor, and Robert Craft. Conversations with Igor Stravinsky. London: Faber and
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------. Expositions and Developments. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1962.

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Watkins, Glenn. Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the
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nd
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21






Figure 1. Pablo Picasso, drawing of Igor
Stravinsky, 1917, from Igor Stravinsky
and Robert Craft, Conversations with
Igor Stravinsky (London: Faber and
Faber, 1959), 64.
Figure 2. Pablo Picasso, drawing for cover
of Ragtime, 1919.
Figure 3. Pablo Picasso, set design for
Pulcinella, 1920, from Alexander Schouvaloff
and Victor Borovsky, Stravinsky on Stage
(London: Stainer and Bell, 1982), 98. Photo
courtesy of Muses Nationaux, Paris.
Figure 4. Pablo Picasso, curtain
design for Pulcinella, 1920.
22




Figure 5. Pablo Picasso, costume design
for Pulcinella, 1920.
Figure 6. Pablo Picasso, costume design
for Pimpinella, 1920, from Alexander
Schouvaloff and Victor Borovsky,
Stravinsky on Stage (London: Stainer and
Bell, 1982), 102. Photo courtesy of
Muses Nationaux, Paris.
Figure 7. Pablo Picasso, drawing of Igor
Stravinsky, 1920.
Figure 8. Igor Stravinsky, drawing of
Pablo Picasso, 1920, from Igor
Stravinsky and Robert Craft,
Conversations with Igor Stravinsky
(London: Faber and Faber, 1959), 64.

23


Figure 9. Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles
dAvignon, 1907, Museum of Modern
Art, New York City.
Figure 10. Pablo Picasso, Guitar, Sheet
Music, and Wineglass, 1912, McNay Art
Museum, San Antonio.
Figure 11. From Igor Stravinsky and
Robert Craft, Conversations with Igor
Stravinsky (London: Faber and Faber,
1959), 108.
Figure 12. Pablo Picasso, Drawings, 1924,
as published in La Rvolution surrealiste,
January 15, 1925, 16-17.