This is just a quick and short review, to register my absolute delight at this themed selection of work by a Titan of twentieth century art.
At present I'm concerned purely with the visual aspect, having not (as yet) read any of the essays. Picasso once said to Matisse something like 'You're a great colourist in search of drawing; I'm a great draughtsman in search of colour'. An astute observation, perhaps, but not applicable here.
But of course it was precisely Picasso's self-awareness re his skills with drawing and composition that meant he often painted (or worked in other forms, such as printmaking/sculpture) with either a greatly reduced palette as, for example, in the so-called 'analytical cubism' phase, or plain black and white.
This selection of work is splendid, ranging widely in terms of period, style and medium. But it's all wonderful; full of life, verve, and invention. And what's more, beautifully reproduced, and printed on lovely paper. I've only had this very desirable volume a short while, and not had huge amounts of time to peruse it in, but those short moments I've spent with it have been both extremely invigorating and rewarding.
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Accompanying the exhibition hosted at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the unusually beautiful volume, printed on exceptionally fine paper, with essays that are scholarly, possess literary merit, and are impeccably documented, and a catalog with stunning quality plates with all 118 works present in the exhibition comprising paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, arranged chronologically and spanning the period 1904-1970, explores the artist's recurrent use of black, white and grey palette to depict compelling imagery throughout his career.
The book was edited by Picasso expert Carmen Gimenez who also invested a heroic effort in curating the exhibition, and authored one of the four essays in the book.
Picasso through a persistent recurrence to a black-and-white palette, which highlights the structure of his compositions was able to create artworks of compelling strength and visual richness. His cubist paintings and those from the period of the Spanish Civil War and World War II have been associated with monochrome, and a severe palette, but the exhibition reveals that early in his career Picasso was already purging color from many of his work - an attitude that continued well into the last years of his life. It is no exaggeration to say that these evocative black-and white paintings and sculptures had a special place in Picasso's opus. That many of them remained in his own collection until his death suggests his emotional attachment to them, and their particular importance to his art.
Further in adopting this restricted palette, Picasso displays his affinity to his Spanish roots and a centuries-long Spanish tradition, following in the footsteps of earlier masters - such as El Greco, Diego Velazquez, and Francisco Goya.
I find it fitting to conclude the review by citing two excerpts which 'shed light' to the urge for the use of black-and-white in his big dramatic compositions relating to the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
The first is excerpted from the brief but lyrical and poignant essay by Dore Ashton:
'When Picasso had an urgent message for the world, when he felt obligated to register public events in the most uncompromising terms, he turned to black-and-white, the scale of which has hundreds, if not thousands of mini-tones and is therefore infinitely flexible. The two most powerful expressions of his indignation, Guernica (1937) and the Charnel House (1944-45) are rendered in black-and-white. Guernica has acquired a huge amount of commentary. The Charnel House is less visited by writers, but one of Picasso's most attentive commentators, Roland Penrose, wrote movingly of the painting, which he called ''the most despairing of all Picasso's work:''Again he avoided the aesthetic distraction that color might have brought, and restricted the whole painting between the limits of white and black.''
The significance of the second excerpt may be appreciated with the realization that the quote appears in both essays by Carmen Gimenez and Dore Ashton:
'When the psychologist and writer Rudolf Arnheim probed the various aspects of Guernica, he pointed out that ''the uniform black and white stresses the unity of everything contained in the picture. Whether dead or alive, human or animal, assaulted or unassailable, all figures belong to the same clan, to Spain, to afflicted but immortal life.''
The book would prove deeply rewarding to the reader with an appreciation of Picasso's creative genius and its indelible imprint on twentieth century art.
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My favourite artist, his work is so inspiring, I like his pre-modern art, all this modern art today makes you wonder whether its really art or not. Thats why I like Picasso, its was actaully really intelectual and full of emotion, expression, and sometimes you can relate to it.