Monday, December 2, 2013

Pablo Picasso Women - Bulls - Old Masters

Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin
Fri 13 September 2013 - Sun 12 January 2014

Pablo Picasso–Women, Bulls, Old Masters from Gestalten on Vimeo.

Picasso created the most important oeuvre in 20th-century art not only in his capacity as a painter and sculptor, but also and above all as a draughtsman and printmaker. The Kupferstichkabinett's collection of 180 works by this giant of modernism is one of the oldest Picasso collections held by a public museum. Featuring 120 prints and drawings selected from the Kupferstichkabinett's own holdings and supplemented by an additional 40 loans - including paintings, coloured works on paper, posters, and ceramics - this retrospective survey cuts across seven decades in an extraordinary body of work. It ranges in style from Picasso's early ascetic figuration, through nuances of Cubism, Neoclassicism, and Surrealism, to the vibrant expressivity of the late period, all the while depicting his transformative plurality of style.

Pablo Picasso: Portrait of a Young Girl after Cranach the Younger II, Cannes, 4.7.1958
© Succession Picasso / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Jörg P. Anders

This portrait, made in July 1958, was Picasso’s first independent linocut. It was based on a postcard sent to him by his dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler of a painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger. Cranach’s painting of 1564 is delicately modelled and coloured, making it an unexpected choice for turning into a linocut. Adopting the conventional technique for colour linocuts, Picasso cut a different linoleum block for each different colour in the print. Registering each block correctly was complicated, hence the slight overlaps and gaps between the colours.

The exhibition is divided into ten thematic chapters that adhere to Picasso's motto that 'the drama of the man' was the most crucial motivation behind his art. Starting with the early work peopled by jesters and acrobats and interspersed with portraits of his contemporaries, the exhibition moves on to the core themes of his homages to women - lovers and partners - and the relationship between artist and model. Also highlighted are Picasso's lifelong fascination with bullfighting as an allegory of the battle of the sexes and his appropriation of the myth of the Minotaur of Crete, the half-bull, half-man, which he depicted as his alter ego. Other thematic sections illustrate the artist's politically motivated works (for example prints produced against the Franco regime, and the dove of peace) and his reinterpretation of works of literature and old masters like Rembrandt, Cranach, and Goya.


Over the seven decades of Pablo Picasso’s artistic career, there were subjects to which he returned again and again. These include women, bulls, and the Old Masters as well as political and literary themes, circus people, mythical creatures, and interiors. In order to further explore his changing personal perspective on these subjects, this large format, 300-page book showcases Pablo Picasso’s graphic work in chapters structured according to these recurring themes. Women, Bullfights, Old Masters presents 200 graphic prints, lithographs, drawings, and collages from Pablo Picasso’s artistic beginnings in the early 1900s to his late works from the 1960s. Ranging from black and white to colorful, the artwork represents his various styles from classic to cubistic to surrealistic. The included texts not only examine the work in a historical context, but also reevaluate it from a contemporary point of view. This book juxtaposes a selection of Pablo Picasso’s graphic works with the classical paintings that inspired them. The visual dialog that results reveals interesting parallels and the clear influence of Old Masters such as Rembrandt, Cranach, and Goya on Picasso’s work. Women, Bullfights, Old Masters is rounded out by a biographic chronology, a detailed list of Pablo Picasso’s artworks, and a bibliography.

Pablo Picasso: Studie zu „Die Opfergabe“ (Étude pour„L’ offrande“), 1908 Aquarell und Bleistift, 47,5 x 62,5 cm – © Succession Picasso / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013; SMB, Kupferstichkabinett / Jörg P. Anders