Arts & Entertainment

Argentine exhibit offers censorship-free tribute to Picasso

By Concepcion M. Moreno

Buenos Aires, Mar 29 (EFE).- A recently inaugurated Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) exhibit in Argentina’s capital explores numerous facets of the Spanish artist’s work, including unflattering aspects related to his sexism and prolific womanizing.

More than 30 etchings, drawings, paintings and ceramics that are part of the collection of Buenos Aires’s National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) and represent different stages of his work between 1905 and 1959 are currently on display in an exhibit titled “Picasso en el patrimonio del Museo” (Picasso in the Museum’s Collection) and curated by art researcher Paola Melgarejo.

The different women in the artist’s life feature prominently in two of the five main parts of the exhibit, which refuses to shy away from the most controversial elements of his character and his work.

“We’re against cancellations. We believe artists must be shown in their entire historical dimension,” MNBA Director Andres Duprat told Efe, adding that the idea is for an “intelligent society to discern and study the phenomenon without reductions and without censorship.”

Those two sections – “En el atelier. El artista y su modelo” (In the Atelier: The Artist and His Model) and “Femmes. Retratos de mujeres” (Femmes: Portraits of Women) – include paintings and etchings whose subject is Marie-Therese Walter, who became Picasso’s lover and muse at age 17 and was the mother of one of his children.

They also feature experiments with figuration and cubism involving several other of his main muses: Olga Khokhlova (his wife of 37 years and mother of one of his children), Dora Maar (his mistress for nine years), Françoise Gilot (a woman 40 years his junior and mother of two of his children) and Jacqueline Roque (Picasso’s second wife).

The other three sections of the exhibit are titled “Primer Tiempo: De la figuracion al cubismo” (First Movement: From Figuration to Cubism), “Hacia el Guernica. Arte y compromiso politico” (Toward Guernica: Art and Political Commitment) and “Metamorfosis. Entre lo animal y lo humano: faunos, centauros, toros y caballos” (Metamorphosis – Between the Animal and the Human: Fauns, Centaurs, Bulls and Horses).

Referring to those different facets, Melgarejo told Efe that visitors will see that “mixture of styles of languages, figurative, cubist works, the different searches he conducted throughout his life, because he didn’t conform to one style nor to one technique. He experimented, and here there’s a little of all of that.”

A major highlight of the exhibit is “Femme allongee” (Woman Resting), a 1931 oil painting that the curator said is a portrait of Walter and an example of Picasso’s constant experimentation around the human form.

She said that woman was a subject of many of the artist’s works, “generally in very erotic situations or poses.”

Also of great interest to visitors is a series of etchings he made in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, in preparation for “Guernica.”

Titled “The Dream and Lie of Franco,” those etchings satirize Generalisimo Francisco Franco and show the future dictator destroying Spanish culture.

The exhibit forms part of a series of tributes being paid around the world to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Picasso, who, according to Melgarejo, was a key influence on many Latin American artists.

For his part, Duprat said Picasso is an artist who is “very much appreciated in Argentina” and had a “great influence on Argentine works.”

Open through June 18, the exhibit also includes documents from the museum’s archive on the founding in 1956 of the Pro-Picasso Commission, a vehicle created during the tenure of then-director Jorge Romero Brest to raise funds and acquire pieces created by one of the best-known figures in 20th-century art. EFE


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