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“The Woman at the Window” by Pablo Picasso (1952)

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posted by natasha marco alias navema on Saturday 2nd of October 2010 02:34:55 AM

MoMA, 11 West 53rd Street, NYC by navema The Woman at the Window (La femme à la fenêtre), May 17, 1952, Aquatint. ABOUT THE EXHIBIT: Picasso: Themes and Variations March 28–August 30, 2010, MoMA: Featuring approximately one hundred works, this exhibition explores Picasso’s creative process through the medium of printmaking, tracing his development from the early years of the twentieth century, with depictions of itinerant circus performers in the Blue and Rose periods, to his discovery of Cubism. It follows his evolving artistic vision through decades of experimentation in etching, lithography, and linoleum cut, demonstrating how each technique inspired new directions in his work. The exhibition focuses on specific themes, showing how Picasso’s imagery went through a constant process of metamorphosis. Printmaking, in particular, allows this fundamental aspect of his art to become vividly clear, since various stages in building a composition can be documented. One series of lithographs shows Picasso progressing, step-by-step, from a realistic depiction of a bull to one that is completely abstracted into schematic lines. Other series reveal changing interpretations of the women in Picasso’s life, as they become the subject of his art and a catalytic force behind his creativity. ABOUT THE ARTIST: Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish-born painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker, decorative artist and writer, active in France. He dominated 20th-century European art and was central in the development of the image of the modern artist. Episodes of his life were recounted in intimate detail, his comments on art were published and his working methods recorded on film. Painting was his principal medium, but his sculptures, prints, theatre designs and ceramics all had an impact on their respective disciplines. Even artists not influenced by the style or appearance of his work had to come to terms with its implications. With Georges Braque Picasso was responsible for Cubism, one of the most radical re-structurings of the way that a work of art constructs its meaning. During his extremely long life Picasso instigated or responded to most of the artistic dialogues taking place in Europe and North America, registering and transforming the developments that he found most fertile. His marketability as a unique and enormously productive artistic personality, together with the distinctiveness of his work and practice, have made him the most extensively exhibited and discussed artist of the 20th century. 1936 -1953: WAR YEARS AND LATER WORK: (i) Spanish Civil War to World War II Events of the next years impelled Picasso towards more public meanings for his hitherto personal symbols. On 14 July 1936 he contributed to Popular Front festivities in France. An enlargement of a gouache, Composition with Minotaur (28 May 1936), became the drop curtain for a performance of Romain Rolland’s play Le 14 juillet; although this belonged to a series of drawings on the Minotaur theme, the gestures and their context suggest a politicized imagery. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on 18 July 1936, the Republican government appointed Picasso director of the Museo del Prado. In January 1937 he etched The Dream and Lie of Franco I and II (Bloch, nos 297 and 298) and wrote an accompanying poem to be sold for the benefit of the Spanish Republic. The sequence of scenes depicts the General as a grotesque polyp reminiscent of Alfred Jarry’s Père Ubu. In January 1937 the Spanish Republican government asked Picasso to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, due to open in June. After a few preliminary sketches relating to the theme of the artist’s studio, on 1 May Picasso set to work on a vast painting, Guernica (oil on canvas, Madrid), finally spurred into action by the aerial bombing by the Falangists of the Basque town of Guernica five days earlier. He then worked intensively, producing more than 50 studies and making extensive revisions on the large canvas. Dora Maar, a Surrealist artist and new companion whom he had met in 1936, photographed seven moments in the production of the final work. Guernica was installed in Paris in mid-June; redolent with political allusions, reportage and historical references, it has since attracted numerous efforts at decipherment. Although a rich mine for analysis, its success as painting or political statement has been obscured by the fact that history has turned it into an icon. Its motifs produced numerous progeny of a more personal nature, but responses to the worsening situation in Spain and preparations for war in the rest of Europe are less in evidence; one such work is Night Fishing at Antibes (Aug 1939), which adopts jarring formal devices in a ritualized image of killing and detached observation. After the invasion of France by the Germans in 1940, Picasso lived in his Paris studio on the Rue des Grands-Augustins. Although watched by the German authorities, he was able to work and even to cast some sculpture in bronze. Skulls and death’s heads evoke the sombre mood, for example in Death’s Head (1943). Similar imagery featured in paintings such as Skull, Sea Urchins and Lamp on a Table (1946). Le Désir attrapé par la queue (Paris, 1945), a play written by him in January 1941, deals with the privations of the occupation through the language of poetic automatism. On 19 March 1944 it received a private reading at the home of Michel and Louise Leiris; the participants, in addition to the Leirises, included Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Dora Maar, and among the audience were the Braques, Brassaï, Jacques Lacan and Sabartés. Shortly after the Liberation on 5 October 1944 L’Humanité announced that Picasso had joined the French Communist Party. The imagery of Massacre in Korea (1951) and the War and Peace murals (oil on fibreboard, 1954) was designed to win party approval. Picasso attended international peace conferences in Warsaw (1948), Paris (1949) and Sheffield (1950), received the Lenin Peace Prize (Nov 1950) and designed posters and a portrait of Stalin at the party’s request. From August 1947 he made ceramics at the Madoura potteries in Vallauris, partly motivated, it would seem, by political concerns. In contrast to this humble medium, however, he also produced a considerable number of bronze sculptures in the early 1950s, including some of his best-known works in the medium such as She-goat (1950) and Baboon and Young (1951). (ii) Personal life, late 1930s to 1953 Picasso’s emotional life during this period continued to be turbulent. In the late 1930s he had liaisons with both Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar, continuing his involvement with Maar even after meeting a young painter, Françoise Gilot (b 1921), in 1943. Gilot and Picasso began living together in 1946 and had two children, Claude (b 15 May 1947) and Paloma (b 19 April 1949). The years of Picasso’s most active involvement with the Communist Party coincided with this relationship, but Françoise left in 1953. By contrast with these unstable romantic entanglements, Picasso had a profound and durable friendship from early 1936 with Paul Eluard, a supporter of the left and a Communist Party member from 1942, which ended only with the poet’s death in 1952. Before and after World War II Picasso spent an increasing amount of time in the Mediterranean; with the purchase in the summer of 1948 of La Galloise, a villa near Vallauris, he settled more permanently in the south of France, although he retained residences and studios in Paris. His international reputation had expanded and popularized during these years, beginning in 1939 with the publication in Life magazine of photographs of him taken by Brassaï in Paris and with the exhibition Picasso: Forty Years of his Art at MOMA in New York. After the Liberation Picasso’s marketability in the media was confirmed by a film, Visite à Picasso (1948), directed by the art critic Paul Haesaerts. Picasso was granted a retrospective at the first Salon d’Automne held after the Liberation, his first Salon showing in France. In 1946 he decorated the museum in Antibes, which was then renamed in his honour. International retrospectives took place in 1953 in Rome, Milan and São Paulo. Despite his political affiliations during the Cold War period, Picasso enjoyed prosperity and worldly success.

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  • Published 07.04.22
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