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Picasso and Paper

This is a monumental exhibtion and expostion of Picasso’s works from his  early years as precocious draughtsman in his birthplace Malaga when he was compared to Raphael, through the blue and rose periods, to Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, to cubism, his obsessiveness with Delacroix and Manet, his Minotaur studies, to his old age.

Whilst he was obsessed by bits of paper I thought it was simplistic to say he had a special relationship with it any more than with paint. In brief the title was a peg, if not a pretext, to collect some 300 works mostly from the Picassso Museum of Paris.

Picasso did not make a will – some say he enjoyed the idea of his disparate family divided fighting over his works.

It is true that the presence of his children Claude and Maya on the authentication committee make such things difficult as they have a bitter relationship.

By relying on the paper theme the exhibition necessarily excludes his ceramics which is a shame.

His ceramic works comprising 633 works between 1947-1971 with the Modura pottery from bowls and plates to pitchers and vases were for many years a cheap way to own  a Picasso.

They are colourful, varied , explore his interest in bull fighting and animals, but for reasons of ambit could not be represented.

As with many exhibitions I found myself concentrating on 2 or 3 exhibits.

I was struck by his poignant and sad ouevres from his blue period – especially the group of 3 figures.

I was also impressed by his line drawings of portraits.

There were some anomalies and nods to modern influences. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is titled The Women of Avignon.   

In fact they were prostitutes from the street Avignon in the red light district of Barcelona.

Picasso frequented this with a friend who died of syphilis. It is hailed as the most important painting of the twentieth century for redefining perspective and visualisation but the reality behind it was Picasso was morbidly fearful he had syphilis too.

This explains the angular ferocity of the women. His partner Dora Maar, who has her own exhibition in London, is credited here for her input into Guernica.

I fear it will not belong before appreciation of Picasso’s genius is offset by his cruelty to his women which resulted in two suicides.

Whether you like, dislike, or disapprove of Picasso, this is a rare opportunity to see the span of his works under one roof.

About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts