With a large volume of works by the Spanish artist belonging to Musée National Picasso-Paris, this powerful exhibition organized by Instituto Tomie Ohtake shows items that bear a very special relationship of Picasso with his work, since they were selected and held by him throughout his life. These works that have thus stood by his side are now part of the collection of the French museum, whose Picassian collection is one of the most important in the world, mostly after two successive donations made by the painter’s heirs in 1979 and 1990. Only two of the works presented at the exhibition originally came from Dora Maar’s collection, later acquired by the museum.
‘Picasso: savant hand, savage eye’, curated by Emilia Philippot, who is also curator of Musée National Picasso-Paris, is made up of 153 pieces, the vast majority of which unprecedented in Brazil, and follow a chronological and thematic journey around sets that mark the main stages of the artist, from his early educational years to the last years of production. The exhibition unveils 116 works by the Spanish master – 34 paintings, 42 drawings, 20 sculptures and 20 prints – as well as a series of 22 frames by André Villers, made in partnership with Picasso. The exhibition ends up with 12 photographs authored by Dora Maar, three by Pirre Manciet, and films on the works and their ‘making-of’. “We chose to take advantage of the specific character of the collection to sketch a portrait of the artist that questions his relationship with creation, in-between production and design, implementation and thought, hand and eye,” says Philippot.
As stated by the curator, the exhibition is premised on the special relationship maintained by the artist with his own works. “This intimate and personal connection that pervades Picasso’s entire production emerges differently, according to his various periods: intimate portraits of the artist’s mother or her first child, Paul; the passionate celebration of female sensuality of Maria-Thèrèse Walter; his unwavering commitment to denouncing the evils caused by contemporary conflicts, the Spanish Civil War and the occupation of France by German troops,” highlights Philippot. According to the curator, whatever the subject matter, beyond the forms, the experiences of Picasso can be seen everywhere. “Affective lover ties, the doubts of man, the family man joys, the citizen’s commitments: all this was embedded and entrenched in his art,” she adds.
The Brazilian exhibition suggests a chronological and thematic route in ten different sections: The first Picasso. Education years and influences (around 1900); Picasso the exorcist. The young ladies of Avignon (the geometric forms process); Picasso the cubist. The guitar (relationship with music); Classical Picasso. The mask of antiquity (maternity, theater and dance); Surreal Picasso. The bathers; Engaged Picasso. Guernica (work studies, photos and focus on presentation of the painting on canvas in 1953 in Brazil/2nd Biennial of São Paulo); Picasso in resistance. Interiors and vanitas (work process during the war, domestic life and vanities); Multiple Picasso. The joy of experimentation (from pottery to frames); Picasso working. The Mystery of Picasso (the magic of his creative process in painting); and The latest Picasso: the triumph of desire (eroticism in all its states).
The French curator further points out that over this journey, two first-class photographic projects witness, respectively, performing Guernica (news story conducted by Dora Maar), and the experience of frames, partnering up with André Villers.
The exhibition is also marked by films that allow viewers to penetrate the very heart of the artist’s work creation. Thus, Guernica, a film by Alain Resnais and Robert Hessens (1949) revisits the painter’s work through the eyes of the disasters of war. Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot in 1956, Le Mystère Picasso reveals the extraordinary vitality of his creative process.