Pablo Picasso. Poor in Paris until he ‘discovered’ Cubism, then everybody wanted a piece of him on their wall. @royalacademy Picasso and Paper Royal Academy https://tinyurl.com/vcub6so
Pablo Picasso has always been like a piece of furniture passed on down the generations. Not a particularly favourite piece but a piece always and reliably there. To be looked at and maybe sat on now and again, familiar to the extent that I forget it’s there. Picasso and Paper Royal Academy
Tried and tested and remaining firmly in the background almost as wallpaper whilst I concentrated on other art explorations.
This Royal Academy exhibition has turned that ‘familiarity with contempt’ attitude firmly on its head.
I walked around this event twice and it’s a destination to be returned to again and again.
There’s so much to take in. So much to explore. A vast amount of genius to absorb, to try and make sense of. Indeed, to come to some sort of terms with.
Picasso stretches our mind, challenges our thoughts, our values, our perspectives even our beliefs – if we allow him to, and that is the joy of indulging this experience. We can be turned upside down, inside out not only with enjoying being at one with his dramatically changing oeuvre, style, subject matter and depictions, but also with his unique interpretations.
In terms of his oeuvre: from his early drawings & paintings (where he proved he could truly represent – so move on from there), blue and pink periods, through Cubism, Neo-Classicism, late Cubism, interpretations of Manet and use of new materials, he never stopped moving on. Each time applying his genius to outstanding results.
His interpretations, for instance his realistic sketches of his lover Marie-Therese Walter and his erotic expressionistic sculptures and drawings of her. Also, his interpretation of the Classical, producing familiar images in his unique style.
Picasso and Paper Royal Academy
Of course, then there’s Guernica. Here in this exhibition, videoed photographs by Dora Maar showing Picasso’s work in progress, making it ‘live’.
I recall making a special visit to the Prado in Madrid to see the original as I was sceptical about its alleged impact. After gazing at it for quite some time I came away firmly of the conviction that it remains one of the most truly dramatic interpretations of all the horrors of war, perhaps more so than any number of true-life photographic images that could have led us to being ‘horror images weary’. That’s the power of art.
Towards the end of the show the RA exhibits works demonstrating Picasso’s tribute to former artists. Of particular note was …
Amazing art tale: Picasso’s love life is a little complex. In 1918 Picasso married a ballerina with Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, Olga Khokholova. Picasso was designing the costumes and set for the ballet based on Eric Satie’s ‘Parade’ at the time.
In 1927 Picasso met Marie-Therese Walter and began a secret affair with her. The marriage to Khokholova ended in separation not divorce as under French law, their wealth should be split in half and Picasso was not prepared to accept this. So, the marriage lasted until Khokholova’s death in 1955.
Marie-Therese hoped that Picasso would marry her, but he didn’t, and she hanged herself 4 years after Picasso’s death.
Meanwhile, in 1935 Picasso, whilst painting Guernica, met the photographer and model Dora Maar and of course began an affair with her. Legend has it that when asked if pressed to decide between Dora and Marie-Therese, his response was – they’d have to fight it out.
And these are the women who feature most strongly in Picasso’s life.
When we look at Picasso’s depictions of these women, should we remember the love tangles behind them or simply gaze upon the works in total abstraction? Humm…
Picasso and Paper Royal Academy