art, The Rest

Picasso: Challenging The Past

Picasso: Challenging The Past

Picasso: Challenging The Past

A few weeks ago now, we took the opportunity to visit the current Picasso exhibition at the National Gallery.  I haven’t until now had the chance to write anything about it.  But, having a clear out through my rucksack, I found the exhibition handbook  (to my shame) a little crumpled!  As the exhibition is only on a few more weeks (‘til June 7) I thought I would take the opportunity to recommend it to fellow bloggers and 71 readers!

As can be expected, an exhibition of this scale and significance is pretty mind blowing.  Anyone who has ever studied the work of Picasso will be more than thrilled to see such a vast collection of works all in one place – and will, therefore, probably have already seen the exhibition!  But, for those who haven’t…

Picasso was an incredibly passionate art student, who exerted much time and energy copying and stylising the work of the old masters.  He flitted around Europe, immersing himself in a plethora of artistic styles.  The exhibition draws attention to the influences of Cezanne, Manet, Courbet and Velasquez among others.  So, it was a bit of a disappointment not to see some of the works that influenced him alongside his own.  But then, on the other hand, the exhibition allows viewers to focus entirely on Picasso’s own paintings.  You can wander around rooms dedicated to a variety of styles and themes, following Picasso’s developing relationship with the past.

And there was an excellent range of work – very few of the paintings on show were duds, and most were of extremely high quality. They were arranged by rough theme – self-portrait, female nudes, male character studies, and the exhibition’s central space, which offered some of Picasso’s studies of older works by his predecessors. We both loved the black and white painting of a man on horseback bearing down upon a terrified woman in the Sabine Women series; meanwhile, we found different things to appreciate in the nudes. There are a wealth of responses to be had here.

For instance, we both loved the Women of Algiers series, full of colour and sensuality, but found the Luncheon on the Lawn pictures strangely obsessive without much in the way of interest for the viewer. Yet the Luncheon paintings had throngs of people around them at all times. It may well be we’re just not big enough Picasso buffs!

All in all, despite sometimes confused organisation, the exhibition is a fascinating look at an aspect of Picasso’s dizzying brilliance as a painter. Go and see it for yourself – a free personal response is part of the ticket price…


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