I don't know how I missed this, but I finally got around to reading an article (Mr. Picassohead Brings out the Child/Artist Within, February 4) by Jim Regan in the Christian Science Monitor about Mr. Picassohead, an interactive Web site that
follows the conventions of Mr. Potato Head in constructing home-made portraits, but uses Cubist elements in the choices of construction material. And while it's possible that a few surfers might gain some useful academic insight about the Cubist movement during their visits, the purpose of the site is simply recreation. Play. Which is to say, art in its purest form.At the site, you can not only create your own Picassoesque portrait but also page through 137,011 submitted examples (and counting) (here is one that's good for Ionarts). It's actually remarkable how diverse the various works are, considering that they all are composed of the same basic elements. I was also surprised to see how very few of them actually look like the work of Picasso, even through they are patchworks of shapes taken from his paintings. There is something to be learned there. When I teach Cubism this spring, I will probably use the site to get the students thinking about how to approach Picasso's work. Perhaps I will ask them to use it to make a portrait of me: the universal desire of teenagers to ridicule their teacher may drive them to complete the assignment.