PICASSO’S YEAR OF WONDERS
Last week I finally went to see the Picasso 1932 Love, Fame and Tragedy exhibition at the Tate Modern. It is truly one of the most significant art shows I have seen this year. The exhibition is so moving and inspiring, that I cannot stop reading about Picasso’s work and life and watch all the available documentaries out there!
Of course, I knew he was a genius and I was lucky enough to see his work at the MoMA and Guggenheim and various private collections, however seeing such a vast body of work in one place was very special!
The exhibition brings you a little bit closer to Picasso’s personal life and really shows how it affected him as an artist. Even though, Picasso would always say:
“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider web … We must pick out what is good for us where we can find …”
It is crucial to look at his art and personal life in parallel, as one influenced another the most! Picasso’s art is a visual diary of his life and complex relationships and each one of them resulted in a new direction in his artwork. For 79 years Picasso experimented with his craft and more than any other artists changed the style of his paintings. To trace these periods of his life and art Picasso’s work is normally divided into Early Work, Blue Period, Rose Period, African Period, Cubism, Neoclassicism, Surrealism and Later Work.
'I paint the way some people write an autobiography. The paintings finished or not, are the pages from my diary' - Pablo Picasso
However, one of the most remarkable years for Picasso’s career was 1932, it falls under Surrealism Period. This was the year when Picasso produced his most radical and remarkable body of work and reinvented himself as an artist. This period of his work was heavily influenced and inspired by his young mistress Marie – Thérèse Walter, whom he met in 1927 and by 1932 it was impossible to hide his affair and sustain his marriage to Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova. This tension in his personal life led him to explore new ways of expressing himself through sculpture, painting, studies of the female body and further distortion of it.
Carefully curate exhibition follows Picasso’s journey over the twelve months. In each room, work is grouped by month, so it is very easy to follow the evolution of his works.
It is extraordinary how the mood of his work changes as the year goes on. The first half of 1932 is filled with very sensual paintings and sculptures inspired by Marie – Thérèse. He is constantly observing and deconstructing the female figure, which became the dominant theme of his work for the rest of the year. He uses soft curves instead of sharp edges, like in his cubist paintings. Also, the colour pallet changes significantly. He is now using beautiful pastels. With purple and canary yellow dominating almost every painting. It is obvious, that Marie – Thérèse represented piece in his life. She was always his light, even during the darkest times of his life.
In June 1932 Picasso’s retrospective opened at Galeries Georges Petit in Paris. The retrospective in brilliantly represented at the Tate. It gives a great summary of Picasso’s career up to this point.
It was amazing to see Picasso’s early figurative painting, such as his self-portrait (1901) from his Blue Period, Portrait of Olga in an armchair (1918) and a portrait of their son Paulo.
The work, that you will see after the ‘Retrospective room’ has a very different feel to it. Canvases are now small and fast. There is a lot of dark colours in them. Big strokes of black paint are dominating compositions. Paintings don’t have that lightness about there anymore. It is obvious that the artist is now feeling restless due to growing tension within his love triangle. After Retrospective Olga finally realised that Picasso has a lover. At the same time, political situation and Great depression also have an impact on artist's work.
The second half of the year Picasso turned to the darker subject matter. He is now fearless of drawing; he is exploring the possibility of rescue in his work, which is often turning into violent scenes.
Towards the end of the year, Picasso was entering a new phase in his life, which will become one of the darkest periods of his life. His world the way he knew it in 1932 was lost forever.
Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy is at Tate Modern untill 9th of September