One of the seminal figures from art history receives full treatment at the National Gallery of Denmark
with an extensive exhibition about Pablo Picasso held at the Royal Collection of Graphic Art. Featuring about 110 works, the exhibition traces the main lines of development running through Picassos effervescently varied universe by looking at important highlights from his graphic work as well as carefully chosen original drawings.
The Master of Modernism
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is a true beacon towering up above the occasionally confusing flow of new departures and clean breaks that characterise the art scene of the first half of the 20th century. More than any other artist, Picasso would reinvent his artistic mode of expression over and over again. Experimentation became his lifes work, and his immense, far-ranging body of work testifies to an artist with a rare ability to appropriate new movements while translating them into an idiom that was unmistakably his own.
The Royal Collection of Graphic Arts new exhibitions offers a chronological sequence of important works from some of the most important periods within Picassos oeuvre. Right from his early production from the dawn of the 20th century with their social and symbolist undertones and his Cubist breakthrough around 1910 through his fascination with Classicism and subsequent loose affiliation with the Surrealist movement, and further onwards to his emerging political commitments in the 1930s and his cleaner, more stringent formal language just after World War II.
The exhibition paints a picture of Picasso as an intrepid innovator. Most of all, it shows that Picassos endeavours within the realms of graphics and drawing are most certainly on a par with e.g. his paintings in terms of originality and sheer craftsmanship.
A central feature of the exhibition is the famous Vollard Suite (1930-37), which Picasso created at a time when he was flirting with Surrealism and its concepts of art unfettered by reason. The exhibition shows 38 of the total of 100 prints in the series, summing up recurring themes within Picassos art. These include his predilection for Ancient art and mythology, which in the series are fused with bullfighting scenes and other favourite subjects of Picassos in a lush, surreal jumble of imagery. At the same time, the Vollard Suites disorienting and labyrinthine sequence of images points to Picassos lasting interest in the concept of time.
... and Franco on a pig
The exhibition takes its starting point in the most recent research conducted on Picassos art on paper. This research indicates that political aspects influenced Picassos artistic mode of expression as far back as the late 1920s. At that point his fascination with Classicism began to cool as it became a favourite among totalitarian political movements in Europe. More explicit political statements are made in the two prints Dream and Lie of Franco (1936-39), which is also featured in the exhibition. Employing a cartoon-like, overtly satirical style Picasso depicts General Franco as a comical knight, a modern-day Don Quixote riding a pig.