The other one

If you do a Google search for “Picasso”, you are told there are about 109 million results. But if you search for “Braque”, you are told there are only about 1.6 million reported results.

Similarly, a search for Pollock yields about 33 million reported results, whereas “Krasner” produces only 588,000.

Yet if you study the work, you see that these were both cases where there was intense joint research. One can find it very difficult to distinguish a Picasso from a Braque during the high period of their Cubist collaboration between 1908 and 1912, and the relationship between the work of Krasner and Pollock is similarly interwoven. Each was in a continual process of influencing the other, to the extent that it would be rather pointless to try to evaluate either one without studying both.

Today Picasso and Pollock are major stars in our cultural firmament, whereas I’ll bet that most Americans don’t even know the names “Braque” or “Krasner”.

There seems to be a pattern at work here — one member of an intellectual partnership becomes a superstar, and the other, while greatly revered by those in the field, is barely known to the general public. For example, in physics we have Einstein and Gell-Man. You can find similar cases in just about every field.

Personality has a lot to do with it. Some people have a kind of star quality, independent of the work itself. When talent and charisma coincide in just the right way, the world takes notice.

But it would also be nice if the world actually looked at the work itself a bit more carefully, and took notice, at least occasionally, of the other one.

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