Made-Up History
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Made-Up History: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso

This look was borne out of a need to update this little section of my blog, Made-Up History, and also out of the fear of wearing blue eyeshadow.

I never understood it, never knew why people wore it out of campaigns or editorials. When I heard that blues suited brown eyes, I was dubious. Still, curiosity got the better of me and thought this was a good time to do it. This is also partially inspired by both Mariana (whose personal makeup challenge was to wear a red lip in the day time) and Liz (who brought up the question that instigated Mariana’s experiment).

Today, we’re going to look at Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon or “The Young Ladies of Avignon,” created in 1907 and is part of MoMA’s collection.



Wikipedia says that it was originally called The Brothel of Avignon, which I can sort of see with the provocative poses of the figures. Even though they are distorted and rendered in the cubist style for which Picasso would be famous for, you can still feel the brazenness of the women pictured.

Similarly, people like Georges Braque and Henri Matisse—friends of Picasso—were scandalized by the brazenness of the piece itself. For many years, “good art” was dictated by several institutions. They set “rules” and a standard that most artists followed. This totally broke the mold. Matisse is quoted as saying “It’s as if you wanted to feed us scraps and give us gasoline to drink to make us spit fire!” That’s how much the dude was offended; he felt as though Picasso “dishonored art.”

Anyway, Picasso painted one of the sights he saw in Spain—a brothel on the Carrera d’Avinyo, in this particular case—and in hindsight, it’s probably not a good idea to create a look based on a painting of prostitutes, but I don’t really care because I love this painting. I mean, he even painted a still life in the midst of all these hussies, and I cannot say ‘no’ to anything that cheeky.

602px-Le_Bain_Turc,_by_Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres,_from_C2RMF_retouched Many artists have depicted baths, harems and brothels before. Jean-Dominique Ingres made “The Turkish Bath” in 1862, and instead of a garish display, he depicted the women to be objects of Oriental desire, with their porcelain, baby-smooth skin and alluring curves. Picasso obviously wanted to create a contrast, and with this piece, he created a “garish caricature of flesh.” There is nothing alluring about these prostitutes. They are kind of beastly and animalistic.

Thankfully, cool people like Gertrude Stein liked this painting, and MoMA liked it enough to put it on display so now you can go look at it whenever you are in New York City. This is a massive work of art with a beautiful, long, and fascinating history, condensed for your reading pleasure over at Wikipedia.

I took the plunge and this is what it looks like on the other side.

Made-Up History - Pablo Picasso - Les Demoiselles D'Avignon - Face 2 OK, so I kind of cheated. This is one of the ways one can wear eyeshadow, but it is not the most conventional way or the way you probably thought I would do it. Unless you did think I was going to cop out and use the shadow as a colored liner, in which case, screw you. (JK, I love you.)

SO. Where do I start? As usual, I kept my eyes (and pretty much my whole face) neutral, but wanted to add a “pop” of blue to my lower lashline. Picasso’s painting is made up of mainly warm browns and neutrals, as well as that beautiful blue, so that’s what I wanted to do. Predictably, I don’t have a whole lot of blue eye (or any, really) makeup, so I made do with that I had.

On the cheeks, I have Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Exposed, right on the cheek and a bit at the temple, but since I’m a bit tanner now, it does not show up as well. I topped off the apples of my cheeks with Illamasqua’s Powder Blusher in Lover. I applied a soft highlight using MAC x Archie’s Girls Pearlmatte Powder in Veronica’s Blush.

Because the painting is not entirely brown-y, I opted for my “complex nude/brown” on my lips. It is a rosy brown shade by Guerlain called Avarice, which is from their Rouge G L’Extrait line.

Brows are tidy and neat, but now I can’t help but think I should have made them more angular. But, onto the eyes! An easy-peasy, lemon-squeezey eye look made with Laura Mercier’s Artist’s Palette for Eyes:

Made-Up History - Pablo Picasso - Les Demoiselles D'Avignon - Eyes Down

Hello pores and spots!

Prime lids and apply Guava on the entire mobile lid. Add Café Au Lait on the outer ‘v,’ the crease, and the bottom lid (?) or lashline using a fluffy brush for a soft effect. Add Deep Night, a pretty navy, to the outer ‘v’ to add depth and complexity. Finish off with Vanilla Nuts on the brow bone, blended into the Café Au Lait-ed crease.

Line the upper lashes with a brown liquid eyeliner. Curl lashes and add mascara. I used Eye of Horus Natural Mascara.

Made-Up History - Pablo Picasso - Les Demoiselles D'Avignon - Eyes Up

Line the lower lashline with NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Pacific and clean up any messy lines. It was too blue for me, so I layered on Urban Decay’s Gunmetal on the inner 2/3 and Laura Mercier’s Deep Night on the outer third as kind of a gradient. Apply mascara on the lower lashes.

Made-Up History - Pablo Picasso - Les Demoiselles D'Avignon - Face

Yay! I cannot say that I am 100% comfortable with blue eyeshadow yet, but we are getting there. I just have to find a way to do it.

The products and tools I used, for posterity:

Made-Up History - Pablo Picasso - Les Demoiselles D'Avignon - Products

How did I do? Thank you for looking! I hope to do more of these, because these are actually really fun to do. 🙂

Sources (I have forgotten the formats, sry):
1 Little, Stephen. “…isms: Understanding Art.” Universe Publishing, New York.
2 Ferrier, Jean-Louis, ed. “Art of the 20th Century.” Éditions du Chêne-Hachette Livre, France. 1999.


  1. Was reading to see what lip color you used because it looks so pretty and moist then I saw it was Guerlain’s avarice. It goes to show why trying for yourself also helpful. I tried it at Sephora and it did not look good on me at all. On you it looks rosy-ish. On me, the brown was more noticeable.

    • Aww, that’s sucks, but I agree! I bought Illamasqua’s “Immodest” because it was SO gorgeous on this one blogger’s lips, but then it looks SO different on me. I looked for it on other people’s lips and it looked SO different on theirs, too. Glad you got to try it before buying it!

  2. Pingback: Draw on a pretty pout with Addiction’s Lip Crayon in Day Trip | Softly Sometimes

  3. Surprisingly good! It’s very subtle. Generally, one should not wear blue eye shadow past the 7th grade. Also, you are hilarious.

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