Saturday, July 14, 2012


Today, I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to see the Picasso Exhibit. It was incredibly well done! The exhibit is spread over seven rooms. There are about 150 works on display. It is definitely a must see.

Room 1 : From Spain to Paris, 1900 - 1905. This period covers Picasso's early years in Spain to his bohemian beginnings in Monmartre in Paris.This period is also known as Picasso's Blue and Rose Periods.

Room 2: Making Way : Ancient, African and Oceanic Inspirations, 1906 - 1909. During this period Picasso was influenced by African and Oceanic part which ultimately lead to Les Demoiselles d'Avignonalthough the actual painting is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art  (MOMA) in New York, it was fascinating and insightful to study the preparatory works that were on exhibit at the AGO. This work lead the way to Cubism.

Room 3 : Cubism, Collage and Constructions, 1909 - 1915. By 1909 Picasso was becoming well known and wealthy. He opened a studio and started working with Georges Braque. Between the two of the, they developed Cubism, one of the greatest innovations in 20th century art.

Room 4 : Classicism, Marriage and Family, 1914 - 1924. Never one to be confined by a fashion or a school of art, even one he helped establish, Picasso returned to a more classical style during WWI. It was a happy time for Picasso; his marriage to Olga Khokhlova.


Room 5 : Surreal Anxiety and Desire, 1924 - 1934.  During the 1920s Picasso was influenced by the Surrealists. The Surrealists were one of the only school's of art that Picasso had any association with. It was also during this period that Picasso's work was infused with an almost tangle eroticism that is amply evident to even a casual observer.

Room 6 : War Paintings : Of Love and War, 1936 - 1939.  The 1930s were tumultuous for Picasso, his marriage to Olga broke down, His mistress Marie - Therese gave birth to his daughter, Maya and later he started an affair with Dora Maar, a Surrealist writer and photographer. Dora's involvement in left wing politics eventually affected Picasso which resulted in the painting Guernica. Guernica was my first introduction to Picasso when I was a teenager.

Room 6 : War Paintings : World War II to Korean War, 1940 - 1951. During WWII Picasso lived and worked in Paris under the German occupation. Although he was harassed from time to time he was left more or less alone. Maybe it was because of admirers or because the Germans did not want the bad publicity of persecuting the great artist, Picasso. the war eventually seeped into his work, symbols of death, skulls, bulls that signify vulnerability. this was the period when Picasso's reputation as a great artist was established.

Room 7 : The Joy of Life, 1950 - 1972 The period of Picasso's life was much brighter than all the preceding periods. And why not? He was permanently established in the south of France which was reason enough. He married a young woman who was some 40 odd years his junior and totally devoted to Picasso and his art and he has two small children later in life.

Picasso was more backward looking during his last period of creativity, which is not unreasonable. He reworked paintings by Delacroix, Velazquez and Manet. He even paid homage to the only artist that he ever considered to be his equal: Henri Matisse( my favorite artist).

I am including a few sketches of my own not because I think they even come close to anything that Picasso drew but that they were inspired by what I saw, at the exhibit and what  I saw within myself.

This is a sketch that I did for my friend Xiaoxiong. She is going through a bad patch right now. As I viewed the many mother and child drawings and paintings by Picasso I thought of her difficulties.

The guitar figured into so many of Picasso's works. It is also an important theme and element in my life so Picasso's guitar works resonant strongly within me. I thought about my cousin Denis who I will always associate with the guitar. For some time. I have been thinking about a work that incorporates the guitar. the idea is even stronger now.

The Picasso exhibit was an important artistic experience for me. I left the AGO feeling much richer artistically and more motivated creatively. I will be drawing on this experience for a long time to come. I would urge everyone who is even the least bit interested or curious about Picasso, if you love him or hate him (especially if you hate him!), go the exhibit. You will be impressed and glad that you went.

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