Art: Battleground

What's wrong with the human face? Nothing, says Pablo Picasso, not a thing. Two eyes, a nose and a mouth are nice in themselves; furthermore it is great fun to add and subtract them, multiply and divide, maul, chop, smear, twist and shred them.

Last week seven garbled girls by Picasso were hanging on the wall of a Manhattan gallery by way of example. In the exhibition catalogue, William Carlos Williams, a poet-pediatrician, gave Bad Boy Picasso a clean bill of health.

"What is a face?" Williams wrote. "What has it always been, even to the remotest savagery? A battleground. Slash it with...

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