If anyone deserves to be called the ‘artist of the twentieth century’, that man is Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973). The exhibition Picasso in The Hague covers his entire career and reveals his untiring urge to experiment. The works on show will include not only oil paintings, but sculpture, drawings, prints and ceramics. In addition, Roberto Otero’s photographs of the mediagenic artist will provide an intimate insight into his turbulent life, in which work and private life were invariably closely intertwined.
The earliest item in the exhibition is a sketch which Picasso made of his father in 1899, when he was only eighteen. Other early drawings and paintings illustrate his early years in Paris, when he was still in search of an individual style and taking his lead from French painters like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Gauguin. The 1901 painting ‘Café in Montmartre’ is a good example of his work during this period. The impressive 1904 etching ‘The Frugal Repast’ was Picasso’s first print and is regarded as marking the end of his famous ‘Blue Period’.
His Cubist phase will be represented by various masterpieces, such as ‘Girl with a Mandolin’ (1910), and his Classical Period, when his paintings contained references to classical antiquity, by large compositions like ‘Harlequin with Folded Hands’ (1923). The period of the Spanish Civil War and World War II are likewise included. The monumental portrait ‘Woman with an Artichoke’ (1942) and the ‘View of Notre Dame’ (1945) are fine examples of his output at this time.
In his famous 100-print ‘Vollard Suite’ (1930-1937), to be exhibited in its entirety, Picasso examines the relationship between the artist, the model and the final work of art. Is it the artist or the model who determines the visual image? Or is it the idea of the model that provides the catalyst for the creation of the image? The ‘Vollard Suite’ is an ode both to one of Picasso’s mistresses, Marie Thérèse, and to art itself.
Among the sculptures on show will be ‘The Crane’ (1952), generally regarded as one of his greatest achievements in this field. At the height of his fame, Pablo Picasso suddenly threw himself into ceramics. The exhibition shows how he drew inspiration from classical antiquity, from mythology and from other cultures, and how he created – within a mere decade – an impressive ceramic oeuvre displaying the same themes as his paintings and drawings.
The main emphasis in the exhibition is on Picasso’s late works. The artist continued to work compulsively right up to his death in 1973 and his undiminished creativity in his final years will be demonstrated not only by large oils like ‘Recumbent Nude with Bird’ or ‘Musketeer and Cupid’ (1969), but also by a number of small, intimate pastels and felt pen drawings.
This exhibition is being organised in partnership with the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, where an exhibition called Mondrian in Cologne will be held simultaneously. Picasso in The Hague will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue (published by Waanders).