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  • Writer's pictureCARAVAN Arts

To Lift Our Spirits: Transcendent Art

CARAVAN Board Member James Rawley shares his top pick.

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907, Oil on canvas, 243.9 cm × 233.7 cm

This work, which depicts five women working in a brothel in a notorious part of Barcelona, is revolutionary. The angular distortions of the nude figures and incorporation of African and Oceanic "primitive" art challenge classical notions of beauty. Moreover, the bold posturing by the naked protagonists and their brazen gazing at the viewer raise the question "who are we to judge"?

This work is on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.


James W. Rawley is an international development professional with over thirty years of experience with the United Nations on four continents in politically complex settings. He was most recently the UN Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and UN Humanitarian and Development Coordinator for Palestine (Headquartered in Jerusalem).  Prior to his role in Jerusalem, he was based in Cairo for six years, as he headed up the UN’s work in Egypt, serving as Resident Representative for the UN Development Programme. He now teaches international peacebuilding at Columbia University.

He also previously served in a similar capacity in Yemen. Other extended assignments with the UN include: Myanmar (Burma); Nicaragua; Honduras; and El Salvador. He also served for shorter periods with UNDP in Geneva and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in New York. A native of New York, James completed his undergraduate studies at SUNY Buffalo and graduate work at Columbia University where he earned degrees in International Affairs and Urban Planning. He resides now on Long Island, NY. He is married to Maria and they have two sons. 


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