The Grudge 2 Movie Synopsis and Production Notes

From Sam Raimi and Columbia Pictures comes the eerie thriller The Grudge 2, which explores the dark secrets behind the revenge-seeking grudge’s wrath as the terrifying supernatural curse is unleashed on a group of seemingly unrelated victims, moving out of the burned-out house and spreading everywhere.

The Grudge 2 carries the infectious, vengeful curse forward as it attacks a group of seemingly unrelated individuals: Aubrey Davis (Amber Tamblyn) discovers from her bedridden mother, Mrs. Davis (Joanna Cassidy), that her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is in a hospital in Japan. She also finds out that Karen is under investigation for the death of her boyfriend in a fire she started in a house located in Tokyo. Since Mrs. Davis is too ill to make the trip, she asks Aubrey to go to Tokyo and bring her sister home.

Shortly after she arrives in Tokyo, reporter and photographer Eason (Edison Chen), seeks out Aubrey to warn her that her sister, Karen, is in the thrall of something unseen and dangerous.

Allison (Arielle Kebbel) attends an international school in Tokyo. Desperately trying to fit in with the school’s “in” crowd, Vanessa (Teresa Palmer) and Miyuki (Misako Uno), she is willing to do anything they ask to get in good with them — even if it means going into a mysterious burned-down house, which was the site of several unexplained murders and strange disappearances.

The young introverted Jake (Matthew Knight) isn’t happy that his widowed father Bill (Christopher Cousins) is engaged to Trish (Jennifer Beals). Still mourning the death of his mother, he cannot understand why his older sister Lacey (Sarah Roemer) gets on so well with their soon-to-be stepmother. He also doesn’t understand why one of his next-door neighbors is being so elusive. It seems that everyone in his apartment building is acting stranger and stranger. One by one, they are infected by the malevolent curse known as “The Grudge,” which is quickly moving out of the burned-down house in Tokyo and spreading to everyone who crosses its path.

The Grudge 2: A New BeginningWhen The Grudge opened in October 2004, horror fans around the world embraced Takashi Shimizu’s hauntingly disturbing thriller, elevating it to almost $190 million at the global box office. The enthusiastic reaction to Takashi Shimizu’s tale of a horrifying curse that causes its victims to die in the grip of a powerful rage hit a nerve with English and non-English-speaking audiences and only whetted their appetite for more.

Shimizu decided to delve further into the fascinating revenge-seeking curse he first explored in the Japanese-language hit Ju-On. As Shimizu explains, “If The Grudge 2 had been the same story as Ju-On 2, I would’ve said no to directing it, because it would no longer have been fun for me just to remake the same material. When the producers promised me a new story, however, I was eager to delve deeper into the mystery of ‘The Grudge’ character and her new victims.”

Screenwriter Stephen Susco, who adapted the first film, was given the challenge to create the next step in “The Grudge” legend. “We knew that we wanted the latest installment to blaze a new trail, to deepen and enrich the story we already knew,” he says. “So the development process was much more intensive than on the first film. We explored a variety of different storylines and a myriad of characters and continued to refine them until we had the core of a strong narrative.”

Adds Shimizu: “The mystery of the curse, which was not explained in the first Grudge, is now revealed. Yet, even for those who never saw the first film or any of my Japanese versions, I have told the new story in such a way that everyone can understand and enjoy it without any previous knowledge or background.”

Next Page: A Multi-Story Ensemble

The Grudge 2: A Multi-Story Ensemble“While the house is still the core of this movie, the ‘Grudge’ travels to many different places in The Grudge 2,” promises Shimizu. The new storylines further explore the mysteries of the “Grudge” and also demonstrate how the curse has spread beyond the doomed house where it began.

Amber Tamblyn, who stars in The Grudge 2, says that what captivated her about the script was the interconnected storylines. “When I was reading the script, I remember jumping between my story and the others that were woven around it and being excited to see what was going to happen next to the other characters.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar, who returns in The Grudge 2, offers, “From the start everyone agreed that this was scarier than the first movie, mainly because you get to meet the characters and know so much more about them personally. For example, the character of Allison, played by Arielle Kebbel, is someone the audience really gets to experience and learn what her life is about before she meets ‘The Grudge.’”

As Kebbel herself explains, “Since The Grudge 2 is a horror film, there is not a lot of time for character development. Shimizu-san and I made Allison the type of character you need no words to understand. When you first see her trying to catch up to the ‘cool’ girls at the international high school, you just can’t help but feel bad for her. From her uneven socks, brown penny loafers, funny outfit, all the way down to her awkward posture… it would simply be a pity to not pity Allison.”

Already an established celebrity in Asia, Canadian-born actor Edison Chen, who makes his U.S. film debut in The Grudge 2, has high praise for the screenplay. “It is easily one of the best scripts I’ve read, because it goes into so much detail about what each actor is supposed to feel,” he says.

Another cast member, Sarah Roemer, was taken with the script primarily because “it delves into the history of the first film. You find out all the reasons for the ‘Grudge.’ It’s one of the better horror scripts I’ve read in a long time, because it has so many different elements.”

For veteran actor Christopher Cousins, the fact that the storylines are interwoven throughout the movie gives it a deliberately disorienting feel. “As an audience member, you begin to identify with that sense of disorientation, which makes you feel that much more vulnerable,” he says.

Tamblyn, who shares most of her scenes with Edison Chen, agrees that unlike most horror thrillers, The Grudge 2 is a character-driven film. “It is really about when the unknown becomes personal, when something gets very close and very scary, but is still unexplainable. Most horror movies don’t take the time to do that. There are things about this movie that are so creepy that I was shaking when I was reading the script! That’s what is wonderful about a good horror thriller — it keeps the audience continually on edge as it throws scary visual scenes at them.”

The cast of The Grudge 2 is comprised of an international group of actors. Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals, Christopher Cousins, Sarah Roemer, Jenna Dewan and Joanna Cassidy are American. Matthew Knight and Edison Chen are Canadian, Teresa Palmer is Australian and Misako Uno is Japanese.

Working with such an eclectic cast presented new challenges for Shimizu in what is only his second English-language film. “I do not know many non-Japanese actors, so I explained to the producers the personality of each character, their importance in the story, what I required from them and how I wanted them to look. Then the producers in the U.S. picked the American actors. Taka Ichise and I then selected the Japanese actors.”

Many of the actors who landed roles in The Grudge 2 were major fans of the first English-language remake and were eager to have the opportunity to work in Japan. However, 12-year-old Matthew Knight assumed that because of his storyline, he would not be making the voyage. “Once they told me I was going to Japan, I flipped out. I was so excited.”

Adds Kebbel: “Besides the obvious thrill of getting to play Allison and work in Tokyo with Shimizu-san, the more subtle thrill was the opportunity to work with actors from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. We had cultures and traditions to learn and live up to. It was a true blessing to learn how America and Americans are perceived through the eyes of a 16-year-old Japanese pop star. As for me, it was an opportunity to ask questions about the different lifestyles within those varied cultures.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar serves as a vital link between the two films, the first of which ended with her character attempting to burn down the house in the hope of destroying the vengeful Kayako. For The Grudge 2, the character of Aubrey, played by Tamblyn, travels to Japan to find out what really happened to her sister, setting the wheels in motion for the new thriller, in which Gellar’s character Karen “realizes she has lost her boyfriend, the love of her life, and is basically committed to a facility that is somewhere between a hospital and a mental institution,” says Gellar. “Anyone who saw the first movie will understand that everything Karen says is real, but to the characters on screen, she sounds a bit like she’s off her rocker.”

The only character who seems to think otherwise is Karen’s sister Aubrey. “Amber was a wonderful choice for the role,” according to Gellar. “I’ve known her since she was 13 years old and I’ve always thought there was a lot about us that is very similar — the way we interact with people, how we look at the world. I don’t think the producers were even aware of those similarities until they actually saw us together.”

Next Page: The Evolution of Kayako and Toshio

The Grudge 2: The Evolution of Kayako and Toshio

“A Japanese ghost is always a woman with long black hair who wears a white kimono,” explains Shimizu, which explains the memorable character of Kayako from his Ju-On movies and The Grudge. As viewers of the films already know, Kayako’s black tresses engulf her victims wherever they may be — in bed, the shower — after which they soon succumb to the “Grudge” curse. “In old times, Japanese women took very good care of their hair. They thought that their long black hair had a soul and so it was very precious to them. A woman with disheveled hair, therefore, is a common representation for a ghost. Tousled hair expresses suppressed emotion, such as a deep grudge or rage, that a woman lets out in order to get her revenge.”

As for Kayako’s white kimono, Shimizu offers: “In Japan, after a person dies, we dress them in a white kimono before we put them into the coffin, thinking that the white clothing cleanses the soul of the dead so it can go to heaven. Then the body is cremated. When a dead soul appears as a ghost, it is usually wearing that burial outfit.”

He admits that the combination of these two elements has resulted in a ghost that is unique and truly scary, not only for Japanese audiences, but around the world.

What makes The Grudge 2 different from the previous efforts, says screenwriter Susco, is that we learn much more about Kayako. “For everyone who thought they knew everything about her, The Grudge 2 will be an eye-opener. In this film we learn what makes Kayako tick. We come to understand her obsessive nature and how seeds that were planted in her past led to the fateful events we witnessed in The Grudge.”

The more we learn about Kayako, says Gellar, the more emotionally attached we become to the story. “In Japanese folklore, ghosts arise from unsettled emotions. That’s why it’s so satisfying when you finally understand Kayako’s anger and emotion.”

The prototype of Kayako’s character was created by Shimizu for his first three-minute student film and he considers it his good fortune to have discovered actress Takako Fuji, who has portrayed the vengeful character ever since. “When I saw Takako in a theater performance for the first time, I knew she would be perfect for my ghost,” he says. “That feeling of inspiration she gave me 10 years ago remains with me to this day.”

“The Ju-On franchise would have never been as successful without her,” he continues. “It is all in the details. For example, notice how Takako widens her eyes. For most of us, when we do that, we actually look kind of silly. When Takako does it, however, it looks completely natural. The action doesn’t even create wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. It’s remarkable.”

Fuji says she still remembers the student film, Katei Homon, she made ten years ago, which was shot in just one day. Of recreating the role for the sixth time, she says, “In the beginning, I was mostly expressing Kayako’s anger. Then as we made more movies, Shimizu-san started to direct me with more feelings: ‘Kayako is crying out for help, she is sad and so on,’ he would explain. So Kayako became more human as we went along and I now try to maintain a mixture of anger and other human qualities when I play the role.”

Admittedly, learning the roots of Kayako’s anger further stimulated Fuji in The Grudge 2. And, she adds, “Shimizu-san’s direction has changed with this movie. He has ideas that are always surprising me.”

Tamblyn, who shares a few scenes with Kayako’s ghost, eagerly sings her praises: “Off screen, Takako is this sweet, funny girl who wears glasses. Then, she comes on stage and she has these huge dark eyes. She has these wonderful facial expressions and this way of moving her body that is truly frightening.”

The character of Toshio is Kayako’s son, whom we learn in The Grudge was also brutally murdered. His appearance on screen often precedes his mother’s attacks. For the new film, Shimizu had to look for a new actor because his previous Toshio, Yuya Ozeki, had grown too tall. “If audiences noticed that Toshio’s ghost had grown up, it would take them out of the movie, so I had to find a new little boy. I had many auditions and was fortunate to find Ohga Tanaka.”

The eight-year-old Ohga Tanaka, who will be nine by the time the movie comes out, was enthusiastic about being chosen and had unique insight into his character. “Toshio just wants to make friends to play with. So when he appears suddenly, he grabs people’s hands. From my point of view, he’s not that scary. I feel sorry for him, because he was killed and left in the attic with his dead mother and his cat.”

As with Shimizu’s previous movies, The Grudge and the Ju-On series, The Grudge 2 will also have a genuinely shocking opening with the same gasp-quotient of the previous film (in which actor Bill Pullman inexplicably jumps out the window of his high-rise Tokyo apartment). Jennifer Beals is the focus on the opening sequence in this film and confesses that “the scene is really one of the primary reasons I wanted to do this film. It has one of those moments that people will always remember.”

Next Page: On The Set In Tokyo

The Grudge 2: On the Set in Tokyo

According to Christopher Cousins, working on a film in Japan was a special experience. “When we tried on our wardrobe for the first time, everyone from the different departments came in and we were introduced to them formally,” he says. “It was a fantastic way to start the process. Then, when you walk onto the set, you have to take off your shoes. It’s an acknowledgement that the space you are going into is where work is going to be done. It’s a kind of reverence for what we were going to be doing, right from the start.”

Cousins also noted that the Japanese crew was much more fluid, pitching in and taking on different duties as needed. “There was this great sense of teamwork, which made for an easy working environment and you always felt like people were there for you, to support you in your work.”

Popular Japanese singer, Misako Uno, noted a major difference between her countrymen and their American counterparts. “We Japanese tend to hold back our honest opinions, but the American cast does not. They are always straightforward and to the point, which was new and very interesting to me.”

After watching the behind-the-scenes commentaries by the actors on the DVD for The Grudge, the cast for the new film was prepared for what to expect on the set in Japan. Nonetheless, there was still the language barrier with which to contend. Director Shimizu doesn’t speak English, and again relied on Chiho Asada, a simultaneous translator, to work with the cast. She accompanied Shimizu at all times so that everyone could understand what he wanted and felt free to ask him questions.

“The language barrier was a much bigger deal than I originally anticipated,” admits Tamblyn, “because there are certain things that you can’t really translate through language, so I found myself using my hands, acting out like in a game of charades. Fortunately, Chiho was an amazing interpreter, able to translate not only Takashi’s words, but his inflections and rhythms as well.”

Another interesting addition in The Grudge 2 is that some of the story takes place in the United States, which was a challenge for production designer Iwao Saito, who had previously worked on The Grudge and Ju-On 2. “I was not sure if I could create American sets in Japan that would look real to the American audience,” he says. “I’ve lived in Japan all my life — I know Japanese culture and what is real for Japanese audiences. So I asked the producers to send me to Chicago and hire an art director who was familiar with American culture — which turned out to be John Marcynuk, who worked on many television series, such as ‘Dark Angel.’”

The production found a location in Yokohama, Japan, to serve as the exterior of the Chicago apartment building, and Saito and his team created the interior sets on Stage 9 at Toho Studios.

Next Page: The Vision of Shimizu-san

Grudge 2: The Vision of Shimizu-san

Executive producer Roy Lee, who initially discovered the Ju-On movies and brought them to the attention of producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert notes, that “Shimizu-san has his own vision for this movie that would be impossible for any other director to replicate. If it hadn’t been for Shimizu-san, we would have had a different style of movie than what we saw in the original.”

Says actress Jennifer Beals: “I have never really been in a horror film before, but after seeing The Grudge, I wanted to work with Shimizu-san, because I think he raises the genre to a different level. He’s smart, funny and extremely knowledgeable about the camera and very exacting. The way he makes his movies is like a creepy Robert Altman film.”

Edison Chen is similarly generous in his assessment of Shimizu’s talents. “I had seen Shimizu-san’s movies before. They are very horrifying and dark. When I got the role, I had only talked to him on the phone, so when I met him he was different from what I anticipated, a kind person who isn’t weird at all. He’s actually very funny and loves to crack jokes. I was amazed that such a funny man could create such scary movies.”

“I was quite taken with Shimizu-san’s specificity,” add Kebbel. “In each take, instead of listening to our words, he was actually watching our bodies. He was so specific about body placement and body isolation. Sometimes, his directions were for editing purposes, but at other times, they were supposed to provoke a different emotion out of me — to capture the terror I was experiencing as it came out of my eyes, my throat, my hands, even my very breath. I loved that, not to mention the fact that since Shimizu-san had the entire movie cut in his head, he didn’t he didn’t necessarily do a master and close-up for every scene. My favorite was a scene that he covered completely by shooting down a hallway into a mirror that reflected onto the room that I was in. That was fantastic.”

Production designer Saito notes a progression in the director’s style since they first started working together. “The Grudge was a big American production and the first time Shimizu-san used sets to shoot a movie. Now he’s gotten used to the movie set concept, so he’s starting to think outside the box. He’s full of ideas now, a lot more than he used to be, because he’s much more confident as a director.”

Screenwriter Susco has also noted the director’s creative growth. “Takashi has become a master at creating tension and scares. His original films were outstanding and he did a fantastic job with The Grudge. On this film, he’s gotten even better at making audiences feel exactly what he wants them to feel, that deep, unsettling terror that lingers on even after the credits roll and the lights come up.”

The very structure of The Grudge 2 reveals the director’s aesthetic progress. As actress Beals points out, “Evil knows no boundary. It can jump from story to story, just as this movie jumps from one set of characters to another. It makes you realize that no one is ever really safe, because evil is not a linear concept.”

“It makes me think of old Hitchcock movies,” adds Cousins, “in which you are more affected by the mood and what your imagination brings than by watching someone’s limbs get hacked off. The mood, the sense of horror, the sense of alienation — all those things lift this story to a higher plane and I hope the audience is literally gripping their knees.”

Adds Kebbel: “This movie is about pure terror, about not being able to see what is coming next, about not being able to put a finger on what is going on or what is happening to you. It’s like you’re truly being haunted from the inside out. To me, just the thought of having no control over your body or what is happening to it is truly terrifying.”

Gellar says she’s convinced that Shimizu has topped himself on The Grudge 2. “One thing I’m certain of is that Shimizu-san never fails to deliver. He has an innate sense of what scares you and the emotional reasons behind it. There is a lot more emotion in this film and it’s also about the unexpected and the shocking — something Shimizu-san is a master at.”

Dance Fusion II

Dance Fusion II
Kitty Meijering
12 in. x 12 in.
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Glam III Pop Art Print Limited Edition

Glam III Pop Art Print Limited Edition
M.J. Lew
20 in. x 20 in.
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Strip Poker

Strip Poker

35 in. x 23 in.
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Denim Girl

Denim Girl

24 in. x 36 in.
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A Quiet Lake

A Quiet Lake
Albert Bierstadt
24 in. x 18 in.
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Woman in New York

Woman in New York
Edoardo Rovere
24 in. x 32 in.
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Dance Me to the End of Love Art Print

Dance Me to the End of Love Art Print
Manuel Rebollo
16 in. x 16 in.
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Picasso: Marie-Therese

Picasso: Marie-Therese
Pablo Picasso
9 in. x 12 in.

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The attraction exercised by blue on Picasso’s imagination lasted until the beginning of 1904. It was so obsessive that when he had to pay his tailor Soler with a portrait-was the Barcelona equivalent of the pastry-cook Murer who used to feed Pissarro and Renoir-he Plunged him into an indigo darkness which did not fail to enhance the melancholy and the innate distinction of that excellent man. This Portrait of Soler (1903) as well as that of the poet Sabartès (1901), now also in Moscow, attest to Picasso’s fundamental romanticism which he will often suppress, especially in his later portraits.

In 1904 and 1905, when he has settled down in Paris for good, Picasso gradually abandons monochrome, the lengthened proportions, and the precious arabesque of gesture. To the blues are now added ochers and pinks; there appear new themes: traveling showmen, acrobats, and their daily life. The melancholy, the poignant solitude of the figures persist for some time. In the Boy with Dog the boy, as famished as his animal friend, roams in a suburban landscape; his nostalgia is lit by a fragile blue light which envelops him on all sides.

The tone brightens, however, and the Girl on a Ball (1905), perhaps one of the last in the series of mountebank scenes, could have appealed to Morosov by its tender symphony of pinks and blues. It is also one of the finest in the series. In the opposition between the brute force of the athlete and the aerial gracefulness of the girl there is the naïveté of a street song. Picasso will always have the knack of extracting from life this essential and fresh note, the fundamental truth of a body, of an attitude, of an expression; how can one forget the exquisite uncertainty of the slender arms groping for support in the air, how can one fail to be struck by this back, muscular and vast, rugged like a dream landscape, the back of an ignudo by Michelangelo or Rosso? Which masters have surpassed the sensitive assurance of outline, the triumphant fancy in the modeling?

This silhouette of a Roman wrestler at rest announces a new spirit in Picasso’s art: a world of the sun, of impassive certitude, of a flourishing physical life replaces the crepuscular and nostalgic limbo. For Picasso’s Latinism the attraction of Mediterranean classicism will prove as irresistible, in these years, as later. His “classical” period will also be his “pink” period. The Nude Boy (1905), this gladiator’s apprentice, comes from a race quite different from that of the little mountebank with the dog; and to the Woman of Majorca (1905), daughter of the Greeks and the Phoenicians, the melancholy of traveling showmen is entirely foreign.

We are in the heart of the Mediterranean, in the midst of a frenzy of ochers and blues; the drawing, the modeling carry memories of the spontaneous suppleness of Pompeian frescoes and the elegance of Alexandrian terra cottas. However, if the style betrays these reminiscences, they serve to endow the figures with an unsuspected youth, for there can be nothing less faithful to the classical canon than the body of this boy with its heavy legs and sinewy arms, nothing less tanagra-like than this translucid apparition traversed by tempestuous shadows.

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Delaunay: Rhythm, 1946

Delaunay: Rhythm, 1946
Sonia Delaunay
9 in. x 12 in.

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Cubism, the first of the three great innovating movements in twentieth-century art, begins in 1907 with Picasso Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and ends, some say, about 1921. Actually cubist principles and devices continue down to the present in the art of such masters as Picasso and Braque. Under the above heading, The Cubist Generation in Paris, are grouped their works early and late, cubist and non-cubist, together with those of their major colleagues, Gris, Léger, Lipchitz and others, lesser or more marginal. A few — Duchamp, Malevich, Mondrian, Rivera — who left the movement to help generate other revolutions.

Moscow is far richer in Picasso’s Blue, Rose, and “Negro” periods (though long hidden. from public view as subversively “formalist”); Basel probably surpasses us in analytical cubism, Philadelphia in cubist collages, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum here in New York, in paintings by Delaunay, Gleizes and Metzinger; and the Paris Musée d’Art Moderne in the work of the past decade in which the Museum is deficient. Nevertheless the cubist generation, by and large, is more comprehensively represented in the Museum of Modern Art than in any other public collection in the world.

Of these riches, because of limitations of space and color plates, can offer only a sampling: for instance, two of eight oils by Braque, two of ten by Léger, eight of sixteen by Picasso, two of eight by Gris, three of eight sculptures by Lipchitz.

In 1904 Picasso was living in an ancient wooden tenement on Montmartre among poverty-stricken poets, actors, clerks and laundresses. A little earlier, he himself had known starvation so that the Frugal Repast is based on firsthand experience.

Avoiding sentimentality which had softened some of his “Blue” canvases he draws the woman and her blind companion with their wine and crust of bread. Their emaciation seems appropriate but it is largely a matter of mannered style, and so is the elaborately studied composition of the hands (which may be compared to Kokoschka’s, opposite).

Picasso was twenty-two at the time and the Frugal Repast, technically a tour de force, was his first major etching. It remained perhaps his greatest, certainly his most ambitious, print until the Minotauromachy of 1935.

Possibly the mannered attenuations of Picasso Frugal Repast were inspired by El Greco. In any case, two years later on a summer’s trip to Spain in 1906 Picasso renewed an early enthusiasm for the great sixteenth-century Mannerist. During the same year Picasso had been stirred by Spanish art of a much earlier period, pre-Christian “Iberian” sculpture; and he had been deeply impressed by the memorial exhibition of Cézanne’s work.

Picasso and Matisse had already met at Leo and Gertrude Stein’s apartment and were beginning to feel that rivalry, alternately friendly and jealous but always implicitly flattering, which they were to maintain for decades. Matisse had shown his very large and controversial Joy of Life at the Salon des Indépendants in the spring of 1906, an event which may well have excited Picasso to emulation. In any event, Leo Stein (who was the first to see that they were the two foremost painters of our time) remembers visiting Picasso’s studio that fall and finding there a huge canvas which, before he had painted a stroke, the artist had had expensively lined as if it were already a classic work. Picasso was marshaling his creative energies for a great effort.

For months that winter Picasso worked on dozens of figure and composition studies. In the spring of 1907 he began to paint. The picture was probably finished by autumn but it was given no name for a dozen years thereafter. About 1920 a literary friend of Picasso christened it with the romantic title Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, an ironic reference to the “damsels” of a house on Avignon Street in Barcelona.

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