News Column

Guggenheim Shows Picasso in Black and White

Oct. 30, 2012

Christina Horsten

Pablo Picasso is renowned for the amount of colour used in his paintings but Picasso Black and White at New York's Solomon R Guggenheim Museum explores the Spanish artist's use of black and white throughout his career.

There is the odd hint of colour here and there but, for the most part, the exhibition, which consists of more than 100 artworks and runs until January 23 next year, focuses on Picasso's recurrent motif of black, white, and grey.

According to the Guggenheim, the colours are "evident in his Blue and Rose periods, pioneering investigations into Cubism, neoclassical figurative paintings, and retorts to Surrealism."

Exhibited in the museum's pristine white interior, the artworks highlight the formal structure and autonomy of form inherent in Picasso's art. "These wonderful works in conjunction with this wonderful spiral-formed architecture is simply perfect," said Carmen Gimenez, co-curator of the exhibition.

Guggenheim Museum and Foundation director Richard Armstrong was also fulsome in his praise of the exhibition, believing it offers new insights into Picasso's creative character.

"This is the first exhibition that examines his continuous use of the black and white palette throughout his career, therefore we think it is a ground-breaking exhibition," said Armstrong.

A number of the 118 paintings, sculptures and works on paper from 1904 to 1971 have never been displayed publicly before and there were serious difficulties getting all the works together for this exhibition.

Museums from across the globe and many private collectors were eventually persuaded to allow the works be exhibited in the astonishing building beside New York's Central Park which was designed by star architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Picasso loved colour and is famous for his Blue and Rose Periods but also had an obsessive interest in line and form, drawing, and monochromatic and tonal values. The artworks date from periods throughout the artist's life and show examples of Realism, Cubism and Surrealism, as well as sketches, oil paintings and sculptures.

Picasso was influenced by the centuries-long tradition of Spanish masters, such as El Greco, Jose de Ribera, Francisco de Zurbaran, Diego Velazquez,and Francisco de Goya, who also worked with minimal palettes, explained Gimenez.

"Black and white paintings are often used to create ambitious and complicated compositions," she said.

This idea of managing a complicated composition without having to organize contrasts of colour can be seen in such Picasso masterpieces as The Milliner's Workshop (1926), The Charnel House (1944-45), and The Maids of Honour (1957).

Picasso's most famous painting, Guernica, is not part of the exhibition but Head of a Horse, Sketch for Guernica is included.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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