As we continue our countdown to ‘GOMA Turns 10’ in December 2016, we look back to 2008 to ‘Picasso and his collection’ which attracted over 206 000 visitors. The collection was presented for the first time outside Europe exclusively at GOMA from 9 June to 14 September 2008, Picasso’s collection has only ever previously been seen in Paris, Munich and Barcelona.
On display were more than 100 works from Picasso’s extraordinary personal collection, works by friends and contemporaries that highlight their inspiration and direct relationship with 80 works by the artist himself from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. Picasso’s personal collection was donated by his family to the French state after his death in 1973.
‘Picasso and his collection’ included paintings, drawings and prints by Matisse, Renoir, Cézanne, Rousseau, Modigliani, Braque and others, as well as a selection of Oceanic and African works. The exhibition gave us a unique insight into the thinking and visual language of an artist who played the most vital role in the creation of modern art. The range of work Picasso collected over his lifetime reflects a very personal, idiosyncratic collection, and paints in its own way an intimate portrait of Picasso the artist.
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Pablo Picasso is one of the best known artists of the twentieth century. His extraordinary talent, output and extroverted personality produced an image of the artist synonymous with modern art. His experimentation with techniques and materials in painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, theatre design and ceramics was enormously influential on successive generations of artists and designers.
‘I think I have discovered many methods of expression, and still I believe there are a great many more to discover’ (Picasso)
The stylistic changes which emerged over a period of 70 years — from the early years of radical experimentation in Paris to his late years — encompassed some of the most significant periods and events of the twentieth century, including World War Two and the succession of major artistic movements such as abstraction and Surrealism.
Picasso’s enduring legacy to modern art was through the mediums of painting, sculpture and collage. His development of Cubism with Georges Braque, his construction and assemblage sculptures, and his use of collage techniques — where ephemera such as theatre tickets and fragments of the daily newspaper were incorporated into the space of painting — changed the direction and history of modern art.
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The Australian Cinémathèque also curated a program exploring Picasso’s relationship to cinema, including important films and documentaries capturing the artist’s working methods and films exploring the themes and historical events that shaped his life and practice. The program also featured documentaries and films relating to the artists whose work Picasso collected and prominent figures from his circle of friends, and also presented a program celebrating French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert, whose collages featured in the exhibition.
The Children’s Art Centre (CAC) offered art-making activities, visitors were invited to enter Picasso’s world of masquerade and make their own mask to wear and keep. Throughout his life Picasso was fascinated with disguise and transformation. He collected masks from all over the world and at his studio he would dress up in costumes, hats and masks to amuse himself and his children.
Picasso also cut paper to make shapes of people, skulls and animals as well as small paper sculptures. He learnt this skill as a boy when he would borrow his aunts scissors to cut out shapes, and he continued the tradition as a father entertaining his own children by snipping out paper dolls to play with and crowns and ties to wear. Visitors were invited to make a paper cut-out sculpture and discover creative new ways of making pictures — just like Picasso did.
‘Picasso Kids’ also included two paintings by Picasso of his son Paulo, complementing art-making activities and introducing children to the artist Picasso.
Also on offer was a contemporary media lounge where you could sample contemporary media through live streamed TV, music, videos, catalogues, journals and magazines from across Europe.
Popular society and contemporary media offered inspiration for Picasso and the artists of his generation. Sampling from newspapers, journals and posters allowed artists to convey many ideas about their world, contributing to important innovations in art.
Designed specifically for the young, the CAC was divided into themed spaces, you could watch live streamed TV and video from Europe; listen to contemporary music from France and Spain and scratch tracks with the interactive DJ turntable; and read art, design and popular culture books, journals and magazines.
‘Picasso & his collection’ was organised by the Musée National Picasso, Paris in association with the Queensland Art Gallery and Art Exhibitions Australia.
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