Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho": Is that a Picasso?

Hitchcock Wiki manager Dave Pattern left a comment yesterday concurring that, in his opinion, the painting I posted from Psycho is indeed a Picasso. He also added a much sharper high-definition image of the screen capture. Take a look and let me know what you think. Extra points if you can identify it positively, including its title, backstory, etc.!

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Dave Pattern said...

You're putting words in my mouth, Joel! What meant was that it's certainly "Picasso-ish" ;-)

I've sent an email to Prof. Mallen, who runs the "On-line Picasso Project" (, to see if he can give a definite "yes" or "no".

Someone made the comment on the wiki message board that the painting might represent multiple personalities.

When I watched the scene again, I noticed that the painting is hung at the same height as Marion's head. So, throughout the scene where she is in Lowry's office, the six faces are looking at her. Perhaps this is meant to mirror the profile shot of Norman (who has multiple personalities) when he spies on Marion undressing?

Another possible reading might be that there are several instances in the film where someone stares directly at Marion and she then feels guilt (e.g. when Lowry walks in front of her car and the scenes with traffic cop), even though the person who stares can't possibly know she has stolen the money.

Perhaps she has already decided to steal the money, and figures in the painting are the first to stare at her (in the same impassive, emotionless way as the traffic cop?). Marion certainly seems very uncomfortable in Lowry's office and wrings her hands throughout the scene.

On a totally different subject, the few high definition transfers that I've seen of Hitchcock's films have been a revelation and I feel they will open up interesting new avenues of research and discussion. The extra clarity of the transfer helps bring out details that were hidden on the lower resolution DVD transfers.

volcker said...

In Suspicion there was a scene where a detective was baffled by a painting... It looked very much like a Picasso.

I will gave to watch it again there was a clear shot of it... It should be simple to identify.


Joel Gunz said...

Hey Ed, I'd love to see what you come up with!

I'll check around, too.

Am reminded of Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle (Wendell Corey) of "Rear Window", who was likewise baffled by the modern painting hanging on LB Jeffries' wall. :)