Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Picasso: Challenging the Past

National Gallery
25 February - 7 June 2009

'Seated Woman', 1920 Musée Picasso, Paris

(MP67)© RMN / Jean-Gilles Berizzi / Succession Picasso / DACS 2008

From the National Gallery Website:

The exhibition is organised thematically, showing how Picasso repeatedly returned to the great subjects of the European painting tradition, analysing them as his personal style developed in myriad directions. Sections include self portraits, the Spanish tradition of male portraiture, the female nude, still life, and the seated female figure.

‘Picasso: Challenging the Past’ culminates in a display of the artist’s Variations where, late in life, Picasso makes direct reference to masterpieces such as Velázquez’s ‘Las Meninas’ and Manet’s ‘Déjeuner sur l’Herbe’, turning them into “something else entirely”.

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe after Manet27 February 1960

Oil on canvas
London, Nahmad Gallery© Succession Picasso, 2008

Picasso's Prints: Challenging the Past

This display of 13 prints by Picasso coincides with the major exhibition 'Picasso: Challenging the Past'. It expands on many of the themes of the major exhibition, particularly his exciting ‘variations’ after the masters.

1971© British Museum Images/ Succession Picasso / DACS 2008
The Times is media partner of the Exhibition.

From an earlier Post:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Picasso and Tradition
This is how Ibsen was mentioned in The Cockroach Catcher

“The early seventies was a very exciting time in London as the first ever course in Family Therapy in the U.K. was just launched. Gregory Bateson just published Steps to an Ecology of Mind, which to this day still manages to be exciting for anyone interested in family systems – a term coined to describe the interaction within a family or extended family. Of course years before that, Ibsen neatly observed family interactions in Ghosts and Wild Duck. Both plays vividly captured family interaction that has hardly been bettered by any other modern writings.”
Duveen was introduced to me very early on in my career, by the same guru who suggested that I should read Ibsen.
“A startling number of masterpieces now in American museums are there because of the shrewdness of one man, Joseph Duveen, art dealer to John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon, Henry Clay Frick, and William Randolph Hearst.”
I have been visiting museums in the U.S. since the early 1980s. Outside LondonNew York is an excellent place for one’s artistic ventures. Many other cities also have treasures and you may be surprised to hear that Las Vegas is the latest to join the list. It must be the money.

New York © 2008 Am Ang Zhang

When visiting a museum, I am not in the habit of joining guided tours, but prefer to explore on my own. However at one time at the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art there was just such a tour starting and I thought I should put away my prejudices and follow the guide.
We stopped in front of a painting, Picasso’s Harlequin (1901), that was to start me thinking about change. Change in every field is often met with criticism and sometimes hostility. Picasso was very talented and he could paint and draw in the classical sense, unlike some modern artists.

Harlequin, 1901 Pablo Picasso 
© 2003 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Our guide talked about the time when Picasso painted this:
“His friend had just committed suicide. Picasso has in this picture revealed the private sadness behind the public face of this character—an interpretation that has greater resonance when one considers that the artist often regarded his clowns as representations of his alter ego.”
I consider painting a superb way to deal with loss and bereavement and Picasso did it in his own way.
The Girl in a Chemise (1905, photo shown in my previous posting on Anorexia Nervosa) drew attention to Picasso’s astute observation power that made him one of the greatest artists of modern times. The Tate’s own display caption stated:
“…… She is fragile, perhaps sickly. Her delicate pink flesh evokes the skin-colour that Picasso’s friend Guillaume Apollinaire identified among street performers: ’that purplish pink one finds on the cheeks of certain fresh young girls close to death’.”
The next painting we looked at was Gertrude. There was something peculiar about this painting and without the guide, I probably would not have paid much attention.
Gertrude Stein, 1906 Pablo Picasso

© 1999 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
She told us the story of Gertrude Stein, herself a writer and her contribution to modern art was well recognised. When she was in Paris she sat for Picasso – many many sittings indeed. Now look closely again. Gertrude is truly the transition from Harlequin to Cubism. To appreciate this, we were urged to go to MOMA to have a look at Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 1907 Pablo Picasso, MOMA Collection
©2008 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The impact of Picasso on the world of art and beyond is immeasurable. One should be encouraged to be innovative and creative in all fields, including psychiatry and medicine.
Review: Telegraph

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