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Hoffman, L. (1984). Picasso and the Painter Model Theme: Multiple Identifications and Creative Transformations of Aggressive Conflicts. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:291-300.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:291-300

Picasso and the Painter Model Theme: Multiple Identifications and Creative Transformations of Aggressive Conflicts

Leon Hoffman


This study demonstrates the effect on Picasso's art of his unconscious conflict involving the relationship to his father, himself a painter. The painter model theme, as exemplified by a Balzac short story, The Unknown Masterpiece, was of central significance to Picasso. In this theme Picasso simultaneously expresses various aspects of his identifications. In his late teens Pablo may have interpreted his father's depression and professional decline as a death; an artist friend's suicide intensified these fantasies. He identified with the dead artist and experienced the woman as the aggressor, perhaps as a projection of his own aggressive fantasies. He chose his mother's name and dropped his father's name as part of a family romance fantasy. In his forties there was a re-intensification of these fantasies as he identified with his father's depression. In his art, Picasso simultaneously or alternately depicted his identification with the artist and the model, with the aggressor and the victim, as well as with a male and a female. Evidence is presented that suggests the presence of death and rebirth fantasies.

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