Seeing Picasso : Maker of the Modern at Pace

Artist Pablo Picasso using flashlight to begin making light drawing in the air. (Photo by Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Pablo Picasso is the subject of a stunning exhibition at Pace in Palo Alto. Organized in close collaboration with the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, Seeing Picasso is the first monographic, chronological survey exhibition on the artist to be presented in the Bay Area in nearly a decade. It runs until 16 February 2020.

Spanning the full spectrum of media, the exhibition showcases over thirty-five masterpieces from each stage of Picasso’s highly prolific oeuvre.

Seeing Picasso begins with some of the artist’s first works, such as Le Fou (1905) and The Dead Casagemas (1901), a notable Blue Period portrait of the artist’s closest friend and one of his personal favourite paintings. Picasso made these early paintings at the turn of the century while in Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris, places of radical thinking that espoused unconventional lifestyles and new ways of seeing the world. These early melancholic portrayals of outcasts, bohemians, and the everyday convey a young, rebellious Picasso’s incipient disdain for mainstream society and the elevated subject matter of most fine art.

Picasso simultaneously reinvented the possibilities of sculpture. By including haptic, volumetric elements, his collages blurred the line between sculpture and the mediums of painting and drawing. In Glass of Absinthe (1914)—another seminal work included in this exhibition—Picasso further collapsed these categories with an unorthodox application of paint to the sculpture’s bronze surface. These experiments anticipated the intermedial condition of postwar art, including Neo-Dada and Minimalism.

Picasso’s prescient consideration of the interplay between art and mass manufacturing would evolve into a new mode of production in the 1960s, when an incipient consumer culture inspired him to create large editions of ceramics such as Bikini Vase (1961). A must-see exhibition.

Image: Photograph by Gjon Mili, courtesy Getty Images.