Dry, brittle paintbrushes and a palette full of colorful blotches bid visitors farewell to the new Picasso exhibition that opens at the Fundación Mapfre in Madrid this coming Wednesday.
The items are precariously balanced in a corner of the last room of the show, in the exact same positions as the genius left them when he walked out of his studio for the final time, claim his heirs.
Picasso. En el taller (or, Picasso. In the workshop) aims to demonstrate that the extraordinary collection of Picasso’s obsessions it accumulates was something more than a myth constructed by the 20th century and conveniently packaged for consumption in the 21st. That Picasso was really and truly like this in his private life.
After examining the 80 canvases, 60 drawings and prints, 20 photographs and over a dozen palettes on display at the foundation, the idea is that visitors will come away thinking that the artist from Málaga not only worked very hard — and very successfully — at embodying the ideal artist for the benefit of humanity and posterity, but that he also worked equally hard at selling this story to himself.
Definitive proof is the fact that the painter-and-model theme “broke forcefully into his work beginning in 1927 and remained present until the end,” notes exhibition curator Maite Ocaña, who decided to focus the show on “the spaces of creative work, which also afford a faithful, daily representation of his day-to-day life.”
In other words, this is a show about the genius’s workplace routines, although above all it talks about his attitudes and habits in the creative intimacy of his workshop. Which, in Picasso’s case, is the same as saying the supreme place of his existence. He himself termed it “my interior landscape.”
The seven decades spanned by the exhibition, from the Cubism of 1918 to one of his last self-portraits in striped pants, include references to locations that are the stuff of legend for art lovers, including Number 23 bis de la Rue La Boétie; the châteaux of Boisgeloup and Vauvenargues; the spacious studio at Grand-Augustins, where he lived with Dora Maar and painted the antiwar mural Guernica ; the villas of La Galloise and La Californie in Provence; and the late-life refuge of Notre-Dame-de-Vie, in Mougins.
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