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The Legendary Picasso

 

Introduction

The Flesh and the Spirit is part of the cultural event “Picasso-Mediterranean”, led by the Musée national Picasso-Paris. Around 60 cultural institutions from across Europe have joined forces for this initiative, notably the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Fondation Van Gogh in Arles, the Musées de Marseilles, the Paris Opéra, the Museo Capodimonte in Naples, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Contemporanea in Roma and the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia. Together they will be aiming to pay tribute to Pablo Picasso, exploring his creations and the places that inspired him in order to offer a unique cultural experience that will strengthen ties between all sides of the Mediterranean.


While Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) co-founded Cubism, the precursor of all the other avant-garde movements, Joan Miró (1893-1983) was involved in the creation of Surrealism. Aside from the major artistic trends and avant-garde movements, the two artists created their own universes which gave them unique places within the history of art, located at the centre of the avant-garde as independent creative figures. It was this independence and artistic uniqueness that made both artists a reference point for other creators as well as key figures in the renewal of art: Picasso through line and drawing and Miró with his use of colour and its intensity.


These two aspects are the most notable in the works selected for this encounter. In the Suite Vollard prints Picasso decided not to use colour and the contrasts between black and white allowed him to consolidate his return to a more classical manner of drawing and a more reflexive world, making the Suite a key work within his extensive oeuvre. For its part, the collection of paintings by Miró, which focuses on his output in the years from 1960 to 1970, not only shows him at the peak of his artistic maturity, in full possession of all the resources of his profession, but above all reveals his passion for colour as an expressive element and as the true basis and material of painting.

 



The Suite Vollard by Pablo Picasso





Pablo Picasso

Portrait de Vollard I [Portrait of Vollard I]

c. 1937

Aquatint/ Montval laid paper

Fundación MAPFRE’s Collections

© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2018  



The series of prints known as the Suite Vollard, now presented in dialogue with the work of Joan Miró, brings together the 100 copperplates produced by Pablo Picasso between September 1930 and March 1937 as a commission from the art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard. The Suite was published in 1939 in two formats: on large sheets of wove paper (760 x 500 mm), signed by Picasso in red or black crayon, with 50 impressions per plate; and on smaller sheets of Montval laid paper (445 x 350 mm) with the watermarks “Vollard” or “Picasso” in an edition of 250 impressions each plate. Prints from the edition in the second format are now dispersed among public and private collections and only a few sets have remained together in their entirety, including the one belonging to Fundación MAPFRE.


The complex history of the work’s origins, its varied subject matter and technique, involving the use of engraving, etching, aquatint, drypoint and their combinations, encouraged the break-up of the complete sets, for which reason very few have survived today. As such, the Suite Vollard in its entirety can be seen as one of the great artistic creations of the first half of the 20th century.


The complete series includes 3 portraits of Vollard; 5 plates on the Battle of Love executed in 1933; 46 on the theme of The Sculptor’s Studio, which constitutes the core of the work (40 of them made between 20 March and 5 May 1933 and 6 between January and March 1934); 4 plates on Rembrandt (27 to 31 July 1934); 15 on the Minotaur and the Blind Minotaur (17th May to 18th June and 22 September to 22nd  October 1933); and 27 plates on different subjects.  The prints do not follow any logical series with regard to the images as the chronology of their execution depended largely on the artist’s external and personal circumstances.


The Suite Vollard clearly reflects the oscillation between order and chaos, classicism and modernity and serenity and agitation which constitutes a characteristic dialectic in Picasso’s work. All the artist’s different phases and stylistic changes are present in his prints, particularly from 1930 onwards when his artistic activities primarily focused on printmaking and sculpture. The Suite Vollard’s underlying theme is in reality that of artistic contemplation, the painter and his model, a man and a woman always separated by a certain distance within the labyrinth of artistic creation.



Pablo Picasso

Minotaure aveugle guidé par une Fillette dans la Nuit [Blind Minotaur led through the night by girl with Fluttering Dove]

November 1934

Aquatint/ Montval laid paper

Fundación MAPFRE’s Collections

© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2018



 For information about Miro please click here: Miro


Picasso and Miró: The Flesh & The Spirit will be exhibited at the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta between 7 April and 30 June 2018. This is an exhibition being brought to Malta by Fundacion Mapfre.



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