The life and work of Pablo Picasso the painter was one of drama and extraordinary talent. Much of that excitement found its way into his prints. This December, the Cincinnati Art Museum
will sweep you away in an exhibition that examines how Picasso brought beautiful women and mythical half man half animals alive in etchings, linoleum cuts and lithographs.
More than sixty prints by Pablo Picasso are on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum, December 17, 2011 through May 13, 2012. Picasso Master Prints surveys the career of one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century who just happens to have been one of the centurys leading printmakers.
This group of Picassos prints chronicles his lifelong exploration and accomplishments in the graphic medium. He explored the themes of his paintings in depth in his printmaking, often before he started the canvas. Among the themes featured in the exhibition, drawn from the Art Museums permanent collection and supplemented with loans from private Cincinnati collections, are: the artist at work; bullfighting; weeping women; and the women in Picassos life as muse. Picassos multiple pictorial styles were inspired by his Spanish heritage, his expatriate career in France, and contemporary world events. Though he evolved over the years, Picasso always returned to these inspirations.
According to Curator Kristin Spangenberg, Picassos graphic work over three-quarters of the twentieth century reflects his ongoing artistic innovations and his celebration of life. They represent a visual diary of his artistic thoughts and experiences.
Without having the benefit of any formal art school training, Pablo Picasso executed his first print in 1899. Beginning in 1904 he executed a group of etchings and drypoints featuring the themes of circus performers and traveling acrobats known as saltimbanques, which you can also find in his in his Blue and Rose period paintings. The dealer and publisher, Ambroise Vollard, acquired these plates and sold them as Suite de Saltimbanques.
In the 1920s, Picasso became totally committed to printmaking. His stylistic approach and imagination reflected his deliberate evocation of a Neo-Classical age of purity and innocence. The subject of three women and three graces appeared repeatedly in his work of this period; all the figures bear resemblance to his wife Olga Kokhlova, whom he wed in 1918. Each time he became involved with a new woman, he incorporated their features into his artistic vocabulary.
The upheavals in Europe during the years leading up to World War II led Picasso in 1937 to examine the theme of weeping women in his paintings, drawings, and a series of prints. These portraits, which embody grief and emotional agony, reflect his relationship with the surrealist photographer Dora Maar and are inextricably linked to his mammoth antiwar painting, Guernica.
For the first time since the 1960 International Biennial of Prints the Art Museum will be showing the entire twenty-six aquatints from La Tauromaquia (Bull Fighting). Picasso illustrated the same text as his predecessor Francisco Goya. Picassos scenes are lighthearted scenes of the various phases of the bullfight, from the procession into the ring to the final end.
Between 1959 and 1962 Picasso explored the medium of linoleum cut. He devised an unorthodox means of using a single block to print multiple color prints by reducing the block for each subsequent color, working from light to dark, printed in earth tones. Among his most spirited linoleum cuts is the 1959 Bacchanal with Black Bull where dancers and musicians cavort with a bull under a blue sky.
Throughout his long career, Picasso developed new movements and explored the various printmaking mediums. In doing so he merged art and life, thus challenging twentieth century audiences.
With the sweep of one line, Picasso could not only outline a human figure, comments Art Museum Director Aaron Betsky; he could give you grief, joy, love, and violence in one concentrated collection of gestures. Kristin Spangenberg has distilled the essence of these distillations for this remarkable exhibition.