IN a warren of studios and flats known as "the wash house," at No. 13 Rue Ravignan in Paris, Pablo Picasso in 1907 painted a canvas that was to become historic. Space was carved out in simple planes as if it had been hacked away with an ax. Two figures on the right presented faces as grotesque as African masks. It was the first cubist painting, Les Demoiselles d' Avignon. Almost half a century later, cubism, although short-lived, ranks as one of the most influential movements in art history. To salute its achievements, the Venice Biennale this summer is exhibiting 29...

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