Art Historian Jed Perl's challenge to reveal a topic in the work of Pablo Picasso that hadn't been thoroughly covered results in “Cock-a-Doodle,” an analysis of the master's lifelong penchant for making art about poultry. Less glorious and known than the master's celebrated images of women and bullfights, birds intended for the dinner table are nonetheless a critical aspect of his oeuvre. For Picasso common birds were perfect tools for implying the elemental. He was not a gourmet. Food was less important for him as nourishment than as a mirror of the soul. Based on an eighty-five page analysis of all of his works on the topic, this essay focuses on his 1962 painting Coq Troussé (Trussed Cock). In this picture Picasso reversed the ordinary process whereby birds are slaughtered before plucking, making this painting unique in the history of game bird portraiture. Horrified and horrifying, the unwilling star of Picasso's timeless and global image demands that his viewers confront their fears of savagery and death. Picasso focused on the carnage lurking behind societal niceties; loved divulging the viscera of so-called civilization; and found in humble, ungainly chicken (and other edible birds) an enduring motif for his humanistic mission.

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