Picasso Sketches and the Doctoral Exam

Sometimes you have to sketch things out to be able to understand them.


The autumn semester starts today.

This past spring, I completed all of the seminars for my Museum Studies PhD. The next step in this process is the infamous examen doctoral, an exercise that involves diving deep into the theory in which my research will be grounded. I'll be investigating museum interpretation, storytelling in the digital age, construction of meaning, and, yes, visitor imagination.

This chapter of my doctoral journey reminds me of a visit I made to the Musée Picasso in Paris. Interspersed between Picasso's artworks were numerous smaller studies that he had sketched in preparation. I was fascinated with these glimpses of his creative process.

I was especially intrigued by a sketch that was a preparation for a 3D artwork displayed across the gallery. Somehow his drawing was able to help him prepare to create something in a completely different medium with three-dimensional form.

Picasso Study Etude Paris
Picasso Study Etude Paris Hand Instrument

In the context of my PhD, the doctoral exam will be my preparatory étude. I will need to practice sketching the relevant theory to make sure I understand how to apply it to my research. The looming final thesis still slightly terrifies me, so it is comforting to think that I will have this opportunity to start engaging in the preparatory work now, in a less permanent exercise.

And so this autumn I will sketch, in the hopes of eventually bringing something worthwhile and well-crafted into the world.

Picasso Study Etude Paris Drawing

Musée Picasso

Address5, rue Thorigny, 75003 Paris  ∣  Métro: Saint-Paul (line 1), Saint-Sébastien-Froissart (line 8), Chemin Vert (line 8)