Pablo Picasso is perhaps best known for the thousands of mind-bending scenes he created with paint, but his comparatively less-known light “drawings” are as worthy of consideration.
In 1949, Albanian-American photographer Gjon Mili visited the 68-year-old Picasso in Vallauris, France and showed the Cubist artist some photos he had taken of ice skaters who had jumped in the air with lights attached to their skates.
Picasso – ever eager to expand his artistic repertoire – was so taken with the idea that he “gave Mili 15 minutes to try one experiment,” according to LIFE Magazine. “He was so fascinated by the result that he posed for five sessions, projecting 30 drawings of centaurs, bulls, Greek profiles and his signature. Mili took his photographs in a darkened room, using two cameras, one for side view, another for front view. By leaving the shutters open, he caught the light streaks swirling through space.”
Though the chosen mediums – light and human movement – meant that Picasso’s “drawings” would disappear as soon he made them, Mili’s innovative approach to photography has allowed Picasso’s energy to shine on to the present.