Archive for December 2nd, 2011

Picasso exhibition

Yesterday I went to the Picasso: masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris exhibition for the first (and second!) time. It’s on at the Art Gallery NSW to March next year and given I have a gallery membership that allows me to go as many times as I want, no cost, no worries about queues or timed tickets, I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity.

There is so much known and seen and written about Picasso. I have nothing to add. However this blog is now my learning log and however trivial, shallow, misled, banal my comments and experience may appear to others, it’s important to me to capture them.

So with notebook remaining in my bag, no particular plan, no pressure to “take it all in” in one great gulp, I wandered through, going where my gaze took me. With current OCA course preoccupations the gaze tended to focus on colour and marks.

Faun uncovering a sleeping woman (1936) is an acquatint and I found multiple images on the net including this one (the British Museum announcing an acquisition) although some of the shadowing on the faun’s torso and front arm looks a bit different. Amazing contrasts of light and shadow, and the ray of sunlight illuminating the scene. The practised voluptuous clean curves of the woman’s body, especially a line which is the calf of one leg and the buttock of the other side, contrasting with the detail and scribble and angular hard muscular faun.

The reader (1932) – click here for an image. Fascinating lines and connections – a horizontal discontinuity across the belt buckle was jarring. I found myself trying to remember and identify bits of colour theory. How conscious would he be of this as he painted, how much would be instinct or ingrained learning and practise and experience?

I went in wondering if there was an element of emperor’s new clothes – everyone “knows” Picasso is a mighty force in art and doesn’t want to be the ignorant philestine who questions. There were a couple of individual pieces  such as Bather opening a beach hut (1928) which left me wondering – but I just found an article here discussing it at length. Even without that, the thundering overwhelming wave of talent plus pracise and exploration over such a long period can’t be denied. It’s a strong childhood memory – playing in the surf at harbord beach, every once in a while there would be a “dumper”, a wave that picked you up and swallowed you and threw you down so you didn’t know which way was up and there was sand in your swimmers and water up your nose and the salt taste. Well, when I write it all down it doesn’t seem so appropriate, but it was exciting and overwhelming and after catching your breath you couldn’t wait to go and jump in the waves again. That’s the exhibition.


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December 2011

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