Picasso Museum of Barcelona

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  • Erotic Picasso

    • Date 25/10/2001 to 20/1/2002
    • In one sense, all of Picasso's work is erotic: his creativity always originated in his sexual drive.
    • Display information

      From his first drawings that reveal a precocious interest in women, right up to his last works - dislocated and pathetic visions of the female sex, executed just a few days before his death - the painter's career developed under the sun of Eros and the shadow of Thanatos. These exists, however, at the heart of Picasso's inmense production, a group of works that are more obviously erotic: mainly drawings and note book sketches, but also paintings ans sculptures, all hidden away from public view in museum storerooms or private collections. It is this aspect of Picasso's work that the exhibition proposes to reveal. Presented in chronological order, the works show the evolution of the style and content of the artist's work from the beginning to the end of his career, thereby demonstrating the constancy and variety as well as the primacy of the erotic gaze that is, occasionally, crudely or, as Jean Clair said, the "libido of seeing".

      As Picasso himself said, he made the transition from childhood to sexual maturity without passing through adolescence, in both his work and personal life. And it was only a short time later - once his family has settled in Barcelona and he was enrolled at La Llotja art school, where he chummed with old friends - that Picasso discovered the noghtlife of cafés, gambling dens and brothels. He continued to patronize them regularly while studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1897, and they were the subject of many drawings in his sketchbooks. Young artist also discovered Goya's Caprichos and Fernando de Roja's picaresque novel La Celestina, a materpiece of Spanish literature published in 1499. Its main character is an old procuress; its heroes are Calisto and Melibea. Thinking of himself as a picaro - a free and unconventional rogue - Picasso would often return to the theme of venal love.

      Back in Barcelona with his friends in 1899, Picasso spent his nights in the brothels of the Barrio Chino. From October to December 1900, he visited Paris, where he led a turbulent existence. Picasso returned to Paris the following year, after further stays in Barcelona and Madrid. Among his sketches and drawings from this period, women shamelessy offer themselves to the spectators, opposite them. The ink and coloured pencil drawing Le Maquereau is an example of this theme.

      Picasso offers the viewers of these works the place of the fascinated voyeur, a position he himself occupied or wished to occupy. In the process, he effects a shift in the relative places of the model and exhibition or brothel visitor. With the 1906-1907 series of studies for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (a painting originally called The Philosophic Brothel by André Salmon, a friend of both Apollinaire and Picasso), the artist moves away from the naturalistic representation of his earlier drawings and prepares the way for the canvas he will later call his "first work of exorcism", where he reverses the situation by having the prostitutes scrutinize the customers before whom they are exhibiting themselves.

      Between th Wars, after the austerity of his Cubist period, Picasso renewed his links with the erotic inspiration of his youth in Barcelona. But he adopted very different means to express it. During these years, as his approach became closer to that of the Surrealist, he dismantled and resculpted the body, dispersing and remodelling its organs. The sexual function is redesigned from separate elements joined together in what might seem to be a random manner but which is, in the end, idealizing (Figures at the Seashore, 1931). In other works in a Neoclassical vein, Eros triumphs again, as always, over the limits of the human body. The artist made many depictions of mythological abductions and violent embraces, as well as Minotaur - and bullfights with blatant sexual components (Bullfight: Death of the Female Toreador, 1933). Elsewhere, centaurs and the Minotaur assault rapturous women and young girls (Minotaur Raping a Woman, 1933) or, suddenly subdued, caress them while engaging in bacchanalian pleasures (Bacchanal with Minotaur, 1933). Along with his paintings and drawings, Picasso's sculptures are examples of a continued, intense inventiveness inspired by the erotic.

      During the 1950s and 1960s, Picasso produced many works in various styles and techniques on the themes of the kiss, the embrace, copulation, bestiality, exhibitionism and orgies. Once again, his concern to place himself within a tradition, if only to break from it, is never far from the surface, as can be seen, for example, in the variations inspired by Delacroix's Women of Algiers and in Woman Pissing (1965), which recalls a similar work by Rembrandt. This concern can also be seen in "The Tar", the orgiastic lover from Desire Caught by the Tail, the play Picasso wrote in 1941, and in the scatological humour of the caganers (figures from catalonian folklore) that he revisits.

      In his twilight years, Picasso returned to the erotic verve of his youth, but the (passive) voyeur has become the (active) onlooker or director of the scene, particulary in his prints. The series "Raphael and La Fornarina" (1968) reinvents and dramatizes the lovemaking of the painter and his model under the gaze of Pope Julian II, lurking behind a curtain, seated on either his throne or his chamber pot; or sometimes in the presence of Michelangelo hidden under the lovers' bed. The avatars of Picasso are legion.

      The series "The Maison Tellier", also known as "Degas at the Girls" (1970-1971) is inspired by the same dramatic and cheerful ardour, but the humour struggles to hide the anxieties of the painter confronted by the miseries of old age. An etching entitled The Proprietress's Party is witness to this conflict: The Women Slander Degas, Reduced to One-third Profile. A remarkable meditation on the erotic function of looking and on youthful memories as inexhaustible sources os inspirations, these prints are an occasion to salute, one last time, the brothels where both his sexual and artisitic apprenticeship took place. The following year, in October 1972, Picasso drew the female body ravaged by time. He died of a heart attack in April 1973, at the age of ninety-one.

  • Albert Gleizes, cubism in majesty

    • Date 29/3/01 to 5/8/01
    • Organitzada pel Museu Picasso de Barcelona i el Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, en estreta col·laboració amb la Fondation Albert Gleizes, l'exposició es proposa revisar l'obra pictòrica i gràfica d'un artista que, des de la publicació de Du "Cubisme", escrit amb Jean Metzinger el 1912, encara sofreix les conseqüències de veure's sovint reduït al paper de teòric del moviment.
    • Display information

      Organised by the Museu Picasso de Barcelona and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, in close collaboration with the Albert Gleizes Foundation, the exhibition sets out to revise the pictorial and graphic work of an artist who, since the publication of Du Cubisme, which he wrote with Jean Metzinger in 1912, is still suffering the consequences of having often been reduced to the role of theorist within the movement.

      This exhibition, which will includes 62 paintigs, 64 drawings and 65 prints, would not be possible without the collaboration, already requested, of many French collectors and museums and of several European and especially American museums. The American museums keep emblematic works from Gleizes’s Cubist period which the european public has not been able to see since the sixties.

      Prepared by Christian Briend, curator in charge of 20th-century collections at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, the exhibition provides an overall view of Albert Gleizes’s career, from its beginnings around 1900 to his work’s final period at the beginning of the fifties.

      With this in mind, the exhibition will be arranged under five main headings corresponding to the main periods in Gleizes’s work, which is characterised by his intellectual loyalty to certain assumptions of Cubism, to which he gives a very personal interpretation.

      • 1901-1909

        After dwelling on the artist’s brief Impressionist period, a series of drawings will be exhibited which are inspired in the social symbolism cultivated by the Abbaye of Créteil group, one of whose founders was Gleizes. The works from a decisive stay in the Pyrenees materialised the burning wish for formal synthesis which spurred the artist at that time, in contact with Le Fauconnier.

      • 1910-1913

        In a move to reconstruct the artist’s participation in the Paris salons of the second decade of the century, as well as in the salon of La Section d’Or in 1912, the exhibition conveys the real scope of the ambitions of Gleizes’s Cubist period as such. This is the moment when Apollinaire saw its “majesty” as “what characterised Gleizes’S art more than anything else”.

      • 1914-1918

        The First World War, during which the artist, having spent a few months garrisoned in Lorraine, settled in Barcelona before arriving in New York, comes across as a particularly fertile period: drawings and paintings show Gleizes’s development towards a dynamic and brightly coloured interpretation of Cubism.

      • 1919-1930

        Back in France, Gleizes, under the influence of the art dealer Léonce Rosenberg, became a champion of pure abstraction, made up of powerfully harmonic geometrical layers. In that same period, the artist devoted himself to important theoretical work which led him to put into practice his “translations” and “rotations” of planes.

      • 1930-1953

        The thirties and forties are represented by large-format paintings in which Gleizes, in an attempt at a profound renewal of religious painting, returned to an allusive figuration (strengthened by the rediscovery of Romanesque art), asserting his aspirations to monumental decoration.