Arts & Entertainment

Picasso’s passion for comics on display in Paris

By María D. Valderrama

Paris, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- British art critic Paul Gravett once said that Pablo Picasso spent his latter years regretting never having turned his hand to cartoon comics given that caricatures and satirical vignettes had provided a huge inspiration in his youth.

The Picasso-Paris Museum is exploring how the art form, which he devoured as a consumer, crept into his own creations in a new exhibition, Picasso and the Comic Strip, which opened Tuesday.

“We wanted to show that while he never published comics, there was a certain appropriation of its codes and that his interest was expressed through his work,” Johan Popelard, the exhibition’s commissioner, told Efe.

Comics, long frowned upon by art critics as a “minor” art form, were born around the same time as the Spanish painter (1881-1973), according to Popelard, and developed through his lifetime.

“The illustrations, the magazines that began to develop…. Picasso devoured all the imagery. One of his novelties of this exhibition is to be able to display his own comics, his magazines, albums and diaries that were in his library,” the specialist added.

From Pim, Pam, Poum to Tintin to Little Jimmy and copies of The New Yorker with its well-known cover designs, the exhibit offers the visitor a glimpse into the artist’s personal collection alongside his own illustrations.

In 1901, Picasso painted his arrival in Paris with Jaime Andreu Bonson with a caricaturistic air and several years later he drew himself with friend Sebastià Junyer i Vidal in a series of illustrations with commentary.

He did something similar decades later in his compilation of images called The Dream and Lies of Franco, which criticized the Spanish military following the 1936 coup d’etat.

But it goes back further. At the age of 10, Picasso was painting little vignettes for his sisters Lola and Conchita.

His love for the comic world grew after his arrival in Paris, when he was able to delve into the collection of American newspaper supplements collected by friend and writer Gertrude Stein.

Stein spoke of Picasso’s enthusiasm in her Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

Art specialists believe his interest in this graphic world of deformed figures, violence and vibrance had an influence on Picasso’s work and could be noted in his famous 1906 portrait of Stein.

“In Picasso’s work, the eyes are always intriguing, their position, their unevenness, their exorbitant character. It could be another byproduct of his enthusiastic reading, those famous ‘big eyes’ made popular by illustrator Palmer Cox (1840-1924),” another of the exhibition’s commissioners, Vincent Bernière, said.

Experts also point to the humor involved in Picasso’s work.

The exhibition, which runs until 3 January, was scheduled to open in March but had to be delayed because of Covid-19. It opens alongside Picasso Poet, a temporary exhibition from Barcelona, which studies the artist’s work post-1935. EFE-EPA


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