At Palazzo Blu in Pisa Pablo Picasso
di// pubblicato il 20 Novembre, 2011
- Translated by Giacomo Alberti -
Nature and art, being two different things, cannot be the same thing. Through art we express our conception of what nature is not.
The Spanish Embassy and the suggestive Palazzo Blu in Pisa propose as third exhibition of the season dedicated to Mediterranean in the twentieth century art: “Picasso. Ho voluto essere pittore e sono diventato Picasso” (“Picasso. I wanted to be a painter and I became Picasso” ).
After March Chagall and Joan Mirò, it couldn’t be left out one of the greatest international masters, legitimately honoured through an exhibition of 270 oeuvres, including paintings, ceramics, drawings and works on paper, some famous series of lithographs and etchings, books and tapisserie. The exhibition results from the intense collaboration with the Picasso Museum in Málaga, the Picasso Museum in Antibes and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona; The latter museum has contributed the 59 linogravure in colour, an important collection, around which the exhibition itinerary is articulated with oeuvres dated from 1901 to 1970.
The exhibition was curated by Claudia Beltramo Ceppi, a partnership managed with Giulio Arte Mostre e Musei, promoted by Palazzo Blu Fondazione with the support of Cassa di Risparmio Pisa and the Patronage of both the Spanish Embassy in Italy and the City of Pisa.
The bizarre title – quoted from a sentence which Picasso told to his mother – demonstrates the painter awareness and the premature wish to subvert the painting, sculpture and graphic schemes. A title which legitimates also the purpose of the curator, the aim to research also through rarely available oeuvres, regarding the evolution of the art of Picasso among several periods of his life, without overlooking the artist’s view about the tragedies that have disrupted Spain and the world during his time.
Picasso, born Málaga, after receiving his artistic education between Barcelona and Madrid, chose France and particularly Paris (a crossword where artists from all over Europe used to converge in the first fifteen years of the twentieth century) so as to conduct an exhaustive research on the form. This achievement, during the 1907 and 1909, enabled him to develop an original pictorial language, which integrated the assumption of Cézanne with the new interest for the primitive and archaic art: Cubism.
With Cubism the artist has turned upside down and innovated at the same time the pictorial language of contemporary painting, a language which he himself continued to experiment throughout all his long life, adopting different forms of expression, inspired especially by African art and Surrealism. This inexhaustible talent led him to a copious productive capacity.
The exhibition at Palazzo Blu researches about all this, through an itinerary structured in three sections, emphasising the creative passages conducted by the Catalan artist, in order to understand his figurative poetic through which he managed to dismantle any coherence and harmony of the pre-established image.
The first section titled “Dalla natura all’arte” (From nature to art) recalls the early years of his career, when Picasso transformed the subjects of his works into contemporary painting stereotypes, describing a reality of poverty and misery. Dark tones of a cold and gloomy blue dominate the canvas and characterise this period, renowned as the Blue period, of which “The frugal meal” , a work dated 1904, is emblematic.
In 1907, the influence of the Art Nègre and Cèzanne oriented his research towards decomposition of the form, which would have led him to the achievement of one among the twentieth century masterpieces: the “Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907), nowadays at the New York Modern Art Museum. The exhibition bears witness of this masterpiece displaying a rare preparatory study of oeuvre as a central figure. It follows the 16 plates series of the "Bulls" , animal depicted realistically by Picasso, so as to bring it to its most extreme and essential synthesis, which is reminiscent of the Altamura prehistoric graffiti.
Although Picasso spent almost all his life in France, he remained so deeply attached to Spain, this wonderful typical Mediterranean country, to grasp from there the biggest artistic inspirations, which would have led him to develop those fundamental insights at the basis of his best production. Thus, the civil war that between the 1936 and 1939 steeped the Spain in blood, together with the Second World War, represented for him the experience of a tragedy with no return, which he translated into a sort of “figurative apocalypse”. This tragic historical and artistic period coincides with the second section of the exhibition, named “Intorno al Guernica” (Around Guernica). All the oeuvres collected in this section revolve around the themes of death, of pain caused by war and of despair of the livings; all themes present in the homonymous painting at Reina Sofia in Madrid.
Perhaps influenced by the photographs on the newspapers, which documented the massacre, Picasso chose to abolish colours, using instead a small-scale of whites, blacks and greys, which best suit to express the concepts of pain, of bereavement and death.
Among the paintings of this period is “Sueño y mentira de Franco” (Dream and Lie of Franco), initially realised to raise funds so as to fight the dictatorship. Among the oeuvres of this period are also the big tables of “Poèms et Lithographies” (Poems and Lithographs), where the artist becomes illustrator himself. He composed images of great tragic force with manuscripts of his poems, describing pain, but also a sense of inadequacy and triviality of war.
One of the anchors of the exhibition will be the collection of the Suite Vollard, consisting of 100 sheets, to which Picasso dedicated a eight-year-period. The collection is exceptionally exhibited in a complete form, around the terrible and agonising scene of the Minotauromachy, which expresses perhaps in the deepest way the emotions of the artist before the modern tragedy of the war, depicted in the mythical image of the half animal and half man monster.
Additionally, the tables of the "Chant des morts” (Song of the Death), will be displayed. Here Picasso seems to re-find the colour and adopt a blood-red calligraphy, which accompanies along 125 sheets the elegant handwriting of Reverdy’s poems.
During the 30s, his creative path was further articulated with a great freedom in experiments, which led him to reconsider the great myth of metamorphosis, alongside with the erotic image of the woman and the bull as symbols of the creative power of the artist. The last two figurative elements are highlighted in the third section of the exhibition and the examples are: the great landscape of 1933 (the renowned painting of the Faun from Antibes Museum), the rare series of the two Naked women with background of curtains and the transformation of the image of Jacqueline, his second wife and last muse, whom he portrays in large and colourful canvases.
To conclude this extraordinary exhibition event, I would like to quote a consideration made by the curator Claudia Beltramo Ceppi: “Picasso was a realist painter, who drew from the reality of the nature or of the art the necessary nutriment so as to complete the subversion of the values in which he researched the only thing that truly interested him: the tension of creating […] art as a weapon, as a shield against the others, against the outside: here is an aspect of the art of Picasso which must not to be forgotten.”>