Thursday, July 9, 2009

Picasso, Whitechapel Boys & Freud.

A child psychiatrist friend suggested that we should meet at the newly re-opened Whitechapel Gallery. What a marvelous suggestion it turned out to be. To be confronted with the giant tapestry of the famous Picasso Guernica was already the highlight.

“We could go home now!” My friend joked. “Indeed!”

Whitechapel was part of Guernica history.

“For this, the first in a series of year-long artists’ commissions, Macuga has conceived a unique venue for public gatherings which references a key moment in the Whitechapel Gallery’s history. In 1939 the Gallery hosted Picasso’s Guernica, an outcry against Fascist war atrocities, to drum up support for the Republican forces fighting in Spain. In 1955 Nelson Rockefeller commissioned a life- size tapestry of Picasso’s painting. Some thirty years later this was lent to the United Nations Headquarters in New York where it has hung ever since outside the Security Council. Offered as a deterrent to war, in 2003 the tapestry was covered by a blue curtain in front of which Colin Powell delivered his fateful speech on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” (The Bloomberg Commission: Goshka Macuga: The Nature of the Beast )

Guernica, mural painting by Pablo Picasso, 1937.
© 1998 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

We did not leave and we were pleased we didn’t:
“In the gallery alongside a new reading room there is currently a display of letters, books, catalogues, paintings and drawings relating to the Whitechapel Boys: the group of Jewish painters and writers (they included David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein, Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg) who met in the library in the early decades of the 20th century.”

Racehorses David Bomberg It was only a small but thought provoking selection. “Using the Whitechapel Library as a meeting place, their discussions contributed to the founding of British Modernism. Strongly iconoclastic, the painters and sculptors in the group began to experiment with dynamic form and abstraction while the writers and poets searched for innovative prose to express their philosophical and political views. Highlights of this exhibition include Jacob Epstein’s Study for Rock Drill and Jacob Kramer’s The Day of Atonement, the first edition of Isaac Rosenberg’s Youth, John Rodker’s Collected Poems from 1912-1925, and items from their personal collections including the manuscript of Clare Winsten’s autobiography and Alfred Wolmark’s early sketch books.”
Whitechapel Gallery

Girl with Roses Lucian Freud Whitechapel Gallery
We were perhaps not too happy with some of the other exhibits. However it was reassuring to see Lucian Freud’s portrait of his first wife, Girl with Roses, that was bought by the museum in 1948 for £157 10s.

Video: Guernica
Whitechapel: Exhibitions

History, Picasso, The Novel
Picasso Posts:
Picasso, Medicine and Lloyds
Picasso and Tradition
Picasso: Challenging the Past
Can They Draw: From Picasso to Matisse
Try Illness First, then Children
The Book: The Cockroach Catcher

1 comment:

Amelia said...

I went to the White chapel Gallery recently, the experience was breath taking.
I don't know how you managed to have all the details noted down. I found the White Chapel Boys exhibition very impressive too. Jews do have good brains!
Anyway, glad you posted the decent painting of Lucian Freud, I am so fed up seeing his nude paintings. His painting technique is excellent but I just don't want to see another pound of flesh after his 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping'.