‘The Most Influential Artist of the 20th Century’
Thousands of enthusiasts and Picasso fans began to make plans for London’s biggest art exhibition of the year when it was first announced back in January that ‘Love, Fame, Tragedy’ would open its doors as the first ever solo Pablo Picasso Exhibition at the Tate. Arguably the most influential artist of the 20th century was to collaborate with the most iconic gallery in the United Kingdom, the Tate London for the Picasso 1932 exhibition.
This exhibition provided genuine insight into Picasso’s personal life. After delving further into the exhibition it became apparent that 1932 would be one of the most important periods in his captivating life. The first section of the exhibition explores Picasso’s rise from a poor Spanish migrant to an international superstar.
Picasso’s Motivation for his Relentless Work Ethic during 1932
Although Picasso had received renowned praise for his work, critics were beginning to question whether he was an artist of the past rather than an artist for the future. This left Picasso feeling ‘increasingly restless’ and ‘critically side-lined’.
These factors led to Picasso’s first sculpture experimentation and his first major retrospective. These reflected the times of economic depression and mass unemployment in his native Spain.
1932 saw Picasso’s attempt to flirt with surrealism. He was trying to compete with his close rival Henri Matisse, who had already become a master in this area.
One striking impression of the exhibition was the sheer number of works that Picasso had managed to produce in 1932.
The Picasso 1932 exhibition featured over 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings, in what appeared to be an endless display of fine artworks. The exhibition started with the accustomed ‘cubism’ theme featuring bright, prime colours; a synonymous feature of many of Picasso’s great works.
Marie-Therese Walter – Picasso’s Muse
Picasso’s muse and 22-year-old mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, was an exceptionally influential part of Picasso’s life in 1932. She became the feature of three acutely rare and extraordinary paintings. The paintings were situated together for the first time since their five-day creation period in March of that year.
Perhaps the most notorious and iconic of these paintings was ‘La Reve’ – the erotically centred, distorted depiction of Walter sleeping. The painting is part of world renowned hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen’s private collection after he famously purchased it for $155 million from Casino tycoon, Steve Wynn in 2013.
The exhibition gave exposure to moments of Picasso’s incredibly close relationship with Walter. Alongside with fascinating insights from his personal life. The letter (pictured below) shows Picasso’s drawing of a heart and an arrow around the years marking the relationship of he and Marie-Therese Walter.
Picasso Ventures into Unexplored Territory
As the exhibition furthered, it became apparent that Picasso was beginning to explore areas that he previously hadn’t probed. The accompanying writing of the exhibition tells the story of Picasso purchasing an 18th century mansion in Normandy. Once there he experimented with sculpture, of which there are various weird and wonderful examples.
The Tate also provided a section dedicated to Picasso’s black and white pencil sketches and drawings. This isn’t an area one would normally associate Picasso’s works with, further reinforcing the diverse forms art forms he was trying in this period.
The Picasso 1932 exhibition brought attention to a period in which he became fascinated by sea creatures, fuelled by filmmaker Jean Painlevé, who Picasso was an avid fan of. He began to centre his artworks around Octopus’ and other aquatic beings, often humanising them and involving them with subjects of his paintings.
An Emotional End
The work featured at the end of the exhibition left the Tate-goers with an emotive and thought provoking send off. ‘The Rescue’ showed Picasso in a vulnerable state, as he presented the agony of the mother and child, painted in early 1933, when Spain became engulfed in civil war. A potential warning of the future to come?