The artist may have been influenced by his primary dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who evidently declined to purchase all but one of the works he’d made that summer. A 1910 portrait of Kahnweiler, begun before Picasso’s trip to Cadaqués and completed after he’d returned to France, reveals the new direction Picasso’s art would take. He began to add “attributes” to his paintings—a tie, a pipe, an ear lobe—small signs that indicated what object was being represented.
Later, in the 1920s, Picasso began to publicly decry abstraction. Bois notes that, as far as he knows, Picasso had made no comment on the style before that point. The comments came “precisely when abstract art was making some kind of noise and he felt a bit of a threat,” he explained. “The threat being: I’m no longer the most avant garde there is.”
In a 1928 interview, Picasso declared: “I have a horror of so-called abstract painting.…When one sticks colors next to each other and traces lines in space that don’t correspond to anything, the result is decoration.” The floodgates had opened; in 1935, the painter opined: “There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards you can remove all trace of reality. There’s no danger then…because the idea of the object left an indelible mark.”
A third argument, which came later, held that it was impossible to entirely eliminate a painting’s subject. “Even if the canvas is green—so what? In that case the subject matter is greenness!”