Picasso, Spanish by birth, is the most renowned artist of the 20th century. By the time of his first trip to Paris in 1900, Picasso had already shown a brilliant gift for draftsmanship and absorbed a wide variety of influences.
His "Blue" period of 1901-04, named from the dominant color of his paintings, concentrated on the pathos of the life of the poor expressed through a restrained Symbolism.
In 1904 he moved to Paris and developed his "Rose" period as a stylistic extension of his earlier work, but with a warmer tonality and more enigmatic meaning. At this time circus performers were among his favorite subjects.
From 1911, Picasso allowed a more decorative feeling to enter his art, culminating in the 1921, The Three Musicians. Between 1920 and 1925 he painted in a classic style, producing pictures of massive weight, poise and authority and was also affected by Surrealism.
In 1937, in response to the Spanish Civil War, he produced his most famous painting, Guernica, a devastating attack on man's cruelty and folly.
No artist has been more fecund or had a greater influence on his contemporaries: much of the history of 20th century art can be written about him.
"When I hear people speak of the
evolution of an artist, they are
considering him standing between two
mirrors that face each other and
reproduce his image on infinite number of
times, and they contemplate the successive
images of one mirror as his past, and the
images of the other mirror as his future,
while his real image is taken as his
present. They do not consider that they
all are the same images in different
During the first decade of this century, Picasso and his friend, Georges Braque pioneered the development of Cubism. It soon was the leading artistic influence paving the way for twentieth century abstract art.
It was the single act of abandoning painting as the means to create a beautiful illusion, such as we see in the glorious achievements of Rubens or Vermeer, and inviting the viewer backstage into the wings, where the sight of ropes, pulleys, backdrops, lighting boards and cue cards dispel the phantasmagoria which had dominated art for centuries.
At last the painter was free to express his inner world in whatever terms sufficed. The gestalt of perception and the science of the psyche ruled. Everything was fair game, and still is, much to the consternation of the eternally staid establishment. What will they think of next?
"We have infected the pictures in museums with all our stupidities, all our mistakes, all our poverty of spirit. We have turned them into petty and ridiculous things. We have been tied up to a fiction, instead of trying to sense what inner life there was in the men who painted them."
"Repeatedly I am asked to explain how
my painting evolved. To me, there is no
past or future in art. If a work of art
cannot live always in the present it must not
be considered at all. The art of the
Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great
painters who lived in other times, is not an
art of the past; perhaps it is more alive
today than it ever was. Art does not evolve
by itself, the ideas of people change and
with them their mode of expression."
Picasso's association with the theatre came about as a result of several collaborations on set and costume design with the leading choreographers and producers of the day, just prior to World War I. This led to his meeting Olga Koklova, prima ballerina with the Russian Ballet. They were married in 1918, cementing Picasso's relationship with ballet.
Picasso drew studies of dancers both while rehearsing and while relaxing at the barre, delighting in their graceful postures and the contours of their sturdy figures. He returned to this theme many times throughout his artistic career.
The works on display in this exhibit are all part of a series of drawings Picasso executed between the years 1926 and 1938. These were gathered together much later, in 1943, and translated into soft ground copper plate etchings by the artist himself and published under the title Grace and Movement by Louis Grosclaude in Zurich.
"THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO CREATE.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS; CREATION IS ALL."