Picasso and Miró. The Flesh and the Spirit offered the first international presentation of 144 works by these two great 20thcentury artists. Organised by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with the Office of the President of Malta and Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, the exhibition contributed to the image of Valletta as European Cultural Capital 2018 from a cultural, educational and recreational perspective.
The Flesh and the Spirit was 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 were the most notable in the works selected for this exhibition. In the Suite Vollard, shown in its entirety at the Palace, 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 shown in the Malta exhibition, focused on his output mainly in the 60s and 70s, not only showing him at the peak of his artistic maturity, in full possession of all the resources of his profession, but above all revealing his passion for colour as an expressive element and as the true basis and material of painting.
This landmark exhibition was very well received, with over 70,000 visitors visiting, making it one of the most well attended exhibitions in Malta in recent times. Accompanying the exhibition was a full programme of events organised by Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, which included daily free guided tours as well as children’s workshops focusing on Picasso and print, and Miró and sculpture.
For those who missed the exhibition a detailed and illustrated catalogue is still available for sale at MAPFRE Middlesea regional offices in Floriana, Birkirkara and Luqa. It is also available at Agenda Bookshops.