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Alchemical Content
Picasso, like many of the great European artists celebrated today, was deeply involved with the practice of magic and alchemy.
"The Unknown Masterpiece," is full of references to alchemy. The date of its' execution, 1934, is a reference in this vein. Elsewhere in its composition, Picasso incorporated important elements from Durer's alchemical master print, Melencolia, in which the number "34" has an important cryptic significance. In alchemy, the two numerals in the number "34", refer to the two planes of spiritual and worldly existence, which are often symbolized by the triangle and the square. The great work, or goal of alchemy is itself symbolized by these numerals 3 and 4, which, when placed together, can represent the conjoining of heavenly and earthly opposites or consciousness.

Alchemical '34'

A 16th century alchemical engraving

Horseback Rider, 1934 Drawing

The Gesture of Hermes Trismegistus, "As Above, So Below."

Crooked Finger, 1934 Drawing

The Downward Pointing Finger

Yin Yang, 1934 Drawing

Concealed Yin-Yang symbol in the head and hair of Picasso

JPG image (63 K) Alchemical '34'
JPG image (48 K) Horseback rider, 1934 Drawing
JPG image (9 K) Crooked finger, 1934 Drawing
JPG image (21 K) YinYang, 1934 Drawing
Mirror Images >>