Picasso painted a “Girl Before a Mirror” almost twenty years after the development of Cubism. It contains both traditional and cubist references. At one level it is a metaphor about the act of seeing both inwardly and outwardly. A lovely classical head that is both visible in serene profile and a full face with a strident blush. In painting her lush body, Picasso followed the example of prehistoric sculptors in his emphasis on the feminine form that was most important to him and that are the most recognisable to the rest of us.
Of course, she is seen both clothed and nude because both the painter and model knew the body beneath the clothing. Her arms are dramatically distorted to emphasise her anxious embrace of the mirror. This is her unsuccessful attempt to come to terms with the troubled psyche before her and in her.
Meanwhile, the colours and the shapes in the painting perform a powerful dance of their own. The yellow, greens, reds and blacks turn and meet with a complex footwork across the surface of the canvas, exerting such a logic of patterning that we can’t forget that this is a canvas with colours on it.