Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Art & Art History

First Advisor

Albert Alhadeff

Second Advisor

Robert Nauman

Third Advisor

Warren Motte


This thesis examines the nuances of Pablo Picasso's minotaur as presented within the framework of the Vollard Suite. I argue that a text by Honoré de Balzac, Physiologie du Mariage, may have influenced Picasso's conception of the minotaur. It features of a minotaur, yet one framed within a parodic setting. The minotaur, explored in connection with the Balzacian creature, reveals the introspective nature of the Picasso’s beast. Furthermore, the comedic tone of Balzac's Physiologie served as a means for Picasso to reflect upon the subconscious drives, which in turn, the artist visually manifested through his surrogate-self, the minotaur. As Picasso's favored alter-ego during the 1930s, one that was deeply linked to his personal, artistic, and Spanish identities, Balzac's text offers the infusion of his French identity into his conception of the minotaur. Traditional scholarship surrounding the minotaur focuses on the mythological or Spanish aspect, which this analysis will not be contesting, but will rather offer another facet to interpretations of the creature.