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Understanding Picasso…

We all think we know Picasso, but what do we really know about his life, his career, his inspirations or even his craft? You might recognize Guernica and a few other paintings as Picassos, but can you describe his signature style?

He spent his whole life creating and recreating, leaving behind a mammoth collection covering painting, sculpture, ceramic, drawings and prints, during a life-long intellectual journey through cubism, surrealism, expressionism…

So who was this guy and what motivated him? A dissertation might do, but how about discovering the answers through four beautiful exhibitions in Paris and Madrid to fill in the gaps and better understand one of the 20th Century’s most important artists.

21 rue La Boétie at the Musée Maillot (Paris) is dedicated to the Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg, notably in the context of the Second World War and its effects on modern art, or ‘degenerate’ art as the Nazis would say, and on the career and collection of Mr. Rosenberg. So while Picasso is not the focus of this exhibition, given Rosenberg’s close personal and professional relationship over many years, it offers a different perspective on the artist.

Olga Picasso at the Musée Picasso retraces the life of the Russian ballerina who becomes Pablo Picasso’s wife. After all, what better way to get to know a man than through his love life! Illustrated by photos, letters, films and paintings by the artist of his wife throughout their relationship, this exhibition gives us the more sensitive, intimate Picasso.

Pity and Terror: Picasso’s Path to Guernica at Reina Sofia in Madrid shines a light on the painter’s political engagement, notably in the face of mounting fascism in Europe, and shows the evolution of his work from the 1920s to the 40s reaching a high point with Guernica. Legend has it that when a German officer, gesturing towards the painting, asks Picasso if he did it, the brilliant Spaniard replies “no, you did!”

Finally, the exhibit Primitive Picasso at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris focuses on the inspirations and dialogue between the Andalusian’s work and primitive arts, confronting his output to statues, masks and sculptures right out of Africa, Asia and Oceania. Even if the parallels are obvious at first, the angle chosen by the museum is accessible and shows a little-known side of Picasso.

And looking a little farther down the road…

The Musée Picasso and the Tate Modern in London are preparing ‘Picasso 1932’, one opening this Fall and the other in Spring 2018. They will be taking visitors on a month-to-month journey through 1932, the year so prolific in the artist’s career it became known the ‘year of wonders’.

And as for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, a small exhibition on the theme of the beach in Picasso’s work is on view late this summer. Through paintings and drawings in 1937, the year of his stay in Provence, France, Picasso on the Beach presents his fondness for beach time and his evolution towards surrealism.

So no more waiting to travel with this giant among giants to understand a tiny bit better a master of the 20th Century!

And don’t forget to rate the exhibits you see on!


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