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... old masters are profoundly abstract but modern art is explicitly abstract.
Picasso is always a lesson about reading the past. The lesson is that some visual traditions run out and become impossible but some remain powerful and modern art isolates and emphasises them.
The word for what a painting essentially is, as opposed to what is depicted, is "pictorial," and it's the pictorial realm that Picasso is the king of, not the sex realm or free-thinking law breaker realm.