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Picasso Retrospective From The Picasso Museum in Paris Opens in Abu Dhabi Today
A person observes paintings made by Pablo Picasso in an exhibit that just opened in The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Photo: EFE / Ali Haider.

ABU DHABI.- The retrospective, one of the most exhaustive and ambitious shows on Picasso to date, brings together over 400 works from this singular collection. The pieces, which came from the artist’s personal collection, are Picasso’s own “picassos” – works he was determined never to relinquish. Paintings, sculptures, ceramics, drawings, etchings, notebooks and a selection of 20 documentary photographs from the painter’s own archives will be exhibited outside of the Parisian museum while extensive reform and expansion work requiring the partial closure of the Hôtel Salé is being completed.

PICASSO 1 - 1895-1924

The genesis of Picasso’s work is represented in the collection by works such as The Death of Casagemas (1901), an indication of his innate fascination with Expressionism, the Self-Portrait (1901) and La Celestina (1904), iconic pieces from the Blue Period. The first signs of Iberian influence can be detected in his Self-Portrait from 1906, which evidenced his departure from the codes of academic painting. The important painted studies for Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) —Seated Nude and Woman with Clasped Hands— or Three Figures Under a Tree (1907-1908), masterpieces from his “Black Period”, are accompanied by a series of drawings that shed light on every stage of the Proto-Cubist revolution.

A series of works revolving around the sculpture Head of a Woman (Fernande) from 1909 reveal the semantic invention and technical blending involved in the process of forging the Cubist style. The large diptych consisting of Man with a Mandolin and Man with a Guitar (1911-1913), examples of analytical Cubism, show the simultaneous deconstruction of space, form and colour. The unique set of pasted papers, clippings, collages and constructions produced from 1912 to 1914, interconnected by several hundred drawings, constitute the body of his most radical investigations.

The Painter and His Model (1914) posed a new question about figuration inspired by popular imagery, postcards and studio photography. Portrait of Olga in an Armchair (1917) illustrates how the plastic acquisitions of pasted papers are annexed through the painting to create a great portrait. His works from the years 1919-1923, which featured a return to the techniques of sanguine, pastel and charcoal, depict themes inspired by the frescos of Pompeii or Primaticcio’s decorative motifs at Fontainebleau in the form of monumental drawings on cloth (Three Woman at the Fountain and The Spring, 1921). This culminated in the great painting masterpiece The Pipes of Pan (1923), which marked the end of Picasso’s second “classical” period. The portraits of his son Paulo, born in 1921, perverted the styles of Velázquez and Manet.

PICASSO 2 - 1924-1935

A very extensive series of cloths, drawings and etchings allow us to trace the stages of the Surrealist period, from the first works such as The Kiss (1925), The Painter and His Model(1926) or the Guitar (1924) made of sheet metal, tin and wire, to the 1928 Workshop/ Studio series in which the shadows of the painter, the model and his representation dialogue with each other.

Contemporaries of the wire sculptures of the Design for a Monument to Apollinaire (1928), these works culminated in the linear sculpture Woman in a Garden (1929), of which the bronze piece belonging to the MNCARS is exhibited (the Musée Picasso Paris owns the same work in iron sheet metal). The virulent colour palette of the small 1930 votive Crucifixion presaged the mythological drama that would obsess Picasso in the following decade. The collection boasts an ample range of works from the prolific thirties, in which the Surrealistic principle spawned a new species of creatures and chimeras such as The Acrobat (1939) or Figures on the Sea-Shore (1931), whose metaphorical rules are exemplified in both the series of small bathers and the sand paintings or sculptures made from plaster moulds and imprints. Between 1930 and 1934, Picasso’s Surrealism was expressed in the extraordinary series of works dedicated to the figure of Marie-Thérèse Walter, as powerfully evidenced in his large nudes such as the 1934 Nude in a Garden revealing the influence of Ingres, or the female Heads and Busts sculpted in Boisgeloup between 1929 and 1931.

PICASSO 3 - 1933-1951
The polychromatic portraits of Dora Maar, the allegorical works The Weeping Woman and The Suppliant pertaining to the context of Guernica or Cat Catching a Bird (1939), were channels that the artist used to express that dedication. The series of Still Lifes, Melancholies and Vanities from the war period, together with the large allegorical sculptures Head of a Bull (1942), Death’s Head (1943) and Man with a Ship (1943), denounced this new massacre of the innocents.

PICASSO 4 - 1947-1972

THE POSTWAR WORKS are infused with the theme of joie de vivre. The series of paintings from the 1950s blend diversity and uniformity in colour to lend the artist’s everyday life a uniquely Picassian interpretation of pop culture. In 1950-1951, this also incorporated the polysemic bestiary invented from waste materials and household objects. Picasso’s work as a ceramicist is also present in a selection of the collection’s 108 unique pieces (1929-1962). The Studio of La Californie (1956), painted in memory of Matisse and as a tribute to Delacroix’s Women of Algiers, or the series of Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe After Manet testify to the important project of reinterpreting the history of painting that Picasso embarked on at the time. Finally, through the figures of the musketeers, bullfighters and musicians and the large nudes and embraces that populated his final works, Picasso addressed the themes of Rembrandt, Titian and Velázquez in an attempt to push the pictorial dynamic to the limits of its capacity.

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