Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid

MUSEO NACIONAL CENTRO DE ARTE REINA SOFIA MNCARS | Santa Isabel 52
28012 Madrid

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press release

This retrospective, one of the most extensive and ambitious exhibitions that has been organized on Picasso to date, brings together more than 400 works belonging to this unique collection, coming from the artist’s private collection and those he never wanted to lose, the so-called “picassos” of Picasso.

Paintings, sculptures, ceramics, drawings, engravings, notebooks and a selection of twenty documentary photographs from the painter’s archive will be exhibited outside the Parisian museum while Hôtel Salé is partially closed due to significant renovations, under construction for the building’s new extension.

Given the important number of works, to display them the Museo Reina Sofía has prepared three large rooms dedicated to temporary exhibitions and the entire wing of the Permanent Collection where Guernica is located. In these spaces, works from the Musée National Picasso will be exhibited in dialogue with those from the Museo Reina Sofía. In all, the exhibition is divided into four sections.

Picasso 1 (1895 - 1923)

At the genesis of Picasso’s work, representative pieces from his blue period constitute a testimony to this phase in the Collection, like La muerte de Casagemas (1901), an indication of his intrinsic fascination for expressionism, Autorretrato (1901) and La Celestina (1904). The first signs of Iberian influence are noted in his Autorretrato (1906), which materializes in breaking away from codes used in academic painting. Important painted studies that form part of the genesis for Las señoritas de Aviñón (1907), Desnudo sentado and Mujer con las manos juntas, or Tres figuras debajo de un árbol (1907-1908)—masterworks from his “dark period”—are accompanied by a group of drawings that shed light on every stage of the proto-cubist renovation.

A series of works around the sculpture Tête de femme (Fernande) (1909) reveals cubism’s semantic invention and its mixture of techniques in the creative process. The diptych Hombre con mandolina and Hombre con guitarra (1911-13), examples of analytic cubism, expose the simultaneous deconstruction of space, form and color. The unique series of glued papers, clippings, assemblages and constructions from 1912-1914, related to each other in several hundred drawings, constitute a corpus of his more radical investigative works.

El pintor y su modelo (1914) initiates a new line of research in representations inspired by popular imagery, postcards and photography for studies. Retrato de Olga en un sillón (1917) illustrates the manner in which added features like glued papers are incorporated into painting a large-scale portrait. Works from the years 1919-1923, which mark a return to sanguine, pastel and charcoal techniques, denote an interest in monumental canvas works inspired by frescos in Pompey and decorations by Primaticcio in Fontainebleau (Tres mujeres en la fuente and El manantial, 1921). This pretext culminated in the great painting and masterwork La flauta de Pan (1923), which concludes Picasso’s second “classical” period. Portraits of Picasso’s son Paulo, born in 1921, would furthermore pervert the styles of Velázquez and Manet.

Picasso 2 (1924 - 1934)

A highly important corpus of canvases, drawings and etchings allow us to follow meanderings through the surrealist period, from its emergence with El beso (1925) and El pintor y su modelo (1926), Guitarra (1924), made with metal plating, tin and wire, to the series of Talleres/Estudios in 1928, in which the painter’s shadow, the model and its representation dialogue with each other. Contemporary to the wire structures in Proyecto para un monumento a Apollinaire (1928), these works culminate in the linear sculpture Mujer en el jardín (1929), of which the bronze piece belonging to the MNCARS is exhibited, while the Museo Picasso París owns the same work as Chapa de hierro. The panel of searing colors in the small Crucifixión votiva (1930) foreshadows the mythical drama that obsessed the artist throughout the following decade. The Collection overflows with works from the prolific 1930s, when the beginning of surrealism would generate a new species of creatures and chimeras, like El Acróbata (1939) and Figuras a orillas del mar (1931), whose metaphorical rules produce both the series of small bathers and the sand paintings, as well as sculptures made with plaster molds. Reappearing again in 1930-1934, Picasso’s style of surrealism is developed in an exceptional sequence of works dedicated to Marie-Thérèse Walter, strong evidence of such being the Grandes Desnudos, like Desnudo en un jardín (1934), which reveal their influence from Ingres, in “Heads” and “Busts of a woman” sculpted in Boisgeloup from 1929 to 1931.

Picasso 3 (1935 - 1951)

Regarding the emblematic work Guernica (1937), together with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía’s own Collection, the Museé National Picasso in Paris Collection attains enormous intensity by showing Picasso’s commitment to the struggle that ravaged the Spanish Republic. The polychrome Retratos de Dora Maar, the allegorical La mujer que llora and La suplicante belonging to the Guernica constellation, and Gato atrapando un pájaro (1939) are some of the forms the artist employs to express this commitment. Added to the series Naturalezas muertas, Melancolías and Vanidades from the war period are large allegorical sculptures like Cabeza de toro (1942), Cabeza de muerto (1943), El hombre con un cordero (1943), to denounce this new murder of innocents.

Picasso 4 (1947 - 1972)

The postwar works are endowed with the theme of Alegría de vivir(Joy of living). The sequence of paintings from the 1950s combines colorful diversity and uniformity to grant the artist’s everyday life a version of pop culture seen entirely through Picasso’s eyes. Also forming part of this sequence from 1950 to 1951 is his bestiary with multiple meanings, created with scraps of waste and household objects. Ceramic works by Picasso are likewise illustrated with a selection of 108 unique pieces (1929-1962) from the Collection. El taller de Cannes (1956) painted in memory of Matisse as homage to Delacroix’s Algerian Women, and Manet’s Déjeuners sur l’herbe, constitute a testimony to Picasso’s important work of rereading the history of painting undergone during this period. Through the figures of Musketeers, Bullfighters and Musicians, the Great Nudes and the Embraces recurring throughout his final works, Picasso takes up, lastly, the subjects of Rembrandt, Titian and Velázquez to bring the dynamics of painting to their limit.

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Pablo Picasso
La coleccion del Museo Nacional Picasso Paris
Kuratorin: Anne Baldassari