|By Alan Hall | Excerpted from the April 2011 Socionomist
Originally published under the title “A Socionomist Sketches Picasso”
A&E’s Biography “Pablo Picasso: A Primitive Soul” called Pablo Picasso an “international superstar, a celebrity on a scale that no other painter in history had ever achieved.” How and why did Picasso attain such a tremendous level of public popularity and success? In this 2011 article, socionomist Alan Hall reveals the simple answer: Picasso provided society what it wanted, at just the right times.
According to various art historians and the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met),3 Picasso’s work falls into six distinct stylistic periods.
The first two (and perhaps most famous) periods, the Blue Period and the Rose Period, seem to fit U.S. stock price trends almost perfectly. In fact, the beginning and ending dates of the first four of Picasso’s six major periods—the Blue through the Cubism Periods—are near major turning points in the DJIA.
To get a feel for the qualitative aspects of Picasso’s work, let’s take a brief tour of his career via charts and quotes from art experts. …
Academic Realism (1893–1899)
Picasso was born in 1881 and studied painting under his father until 1890. By 1893, at age 12, he was producing what critics consider “adult-quality work.” Within a year, the first phase of his career (academic realism) was under way.8 In 1897 and 1899, Picasso briefly studied art in Madrid and Barcelona, respectively. The authors of Great French Paintings from the Barnes Foundation described Picasso’s 1899–1901 work—produced in the final two years of a seven-year Dow rally—as reflecting a “generally upbeat and optimistic mood.”9
Blue Period (1901–1904)
Most historians attribute Picasso’s style shifts, including his move into his “Blue Period,” to changes in his love life or other outside forces. The Met website, for example, says Picasso’s Blue Period was “inspired in part by the suicide of his friend Casagemas.” It goes on to note that “Picasso’s paintings from late 1901 to about the middle of 1904, referred to as his Blue Period, depict themes of poverty, loneliness, and despair.”3
But this three-year period seems to be more than simply a response to the death of his friend. Eight months passed between the February 1901 suicide and the Blue Period’s October onset.10
The Blue Period occurred almost entirely during a negative trend in unconscious social mood as recorded by stock markets. Socionomist Robert Prechter has observed that society expresses a heightened interest in magic and the supernatural during such downtrends. John Richardson, Picasso’s friend and biographer, says in his documentary film, “Picasso: Magic, Sex, Death,” that Picasso became fascinated with the occult iconography of tarot cards during this time, and that the interest influenced one of his most famous Blue Period paintings, La Vie.11 In the film, Robert Rosenblum, who is an art historian and curator at New York University, offers a remarkably socionomic explanation of the Blue Period:
One thing I feel has to always be stressed about Picasso’s Blue Period is that it is not unique … . Nothing of the sort. Blue was really the color of the moment, and it was synonymous with the sense of the spiritual, the ethereal … anything that said goodbye to the hard material facts of the 19th century. … There are artists galore who work in a similar tone. So that Picasso’s blueness is just part of a general mood—an effort to join what is spiritual, saintly, melancholic.11
In the remainder of this six-page article, discover how the other six periods of Picasso’s career reflected the dominant social mood of the time. You’ll come away with an understanding of the impetus behind Picasso’s wild popularity and how individuals can tap into society’s mood to their advantage.
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Most economists, historians and sociologists
presume that events determine society’s mood. But socionomics hypothesizes
the opposite: that social mood regulates the character of social events. The
events of history—such as investment booms and busts, political events,
macroeconomic trends and even peace and war—are the products of a naturally
occurring pattern of social-mood fluctuation. Such events, therefore, are not
randomly distributed, as is commonly believed, but are in fact probabilistically
predictable. Socionomics also posits that the stock market is the best available
meter of a society’s aggregate mood, that news is irrelevant to social
mood, and that financial and economic decision-making are fundamentally different
in that financial decisions are motivated by the herding impulse while economic
choices are guided by supply and demand. For more information about socionomic
theory, see (1) the text, The
Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior © 1999, by Robert Prechter;
(2) the introductory documentary History's
Hidden Engine; (3) the video Toward
a New Science of Social Prediction, Prechter’s 2004 speech before
the London School of Economics in which he presents evidence to support his
socionomic hypothesis; and (4) the Socionomics Institute’s website, www.socionomics.net.
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