Monthly Archives: May 2013

“Picasso and Chicago”: the show is over but its best parts are on display. (It’s the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent collection.)

Featured Image: Minotaur and Wounded Horse, April 17, 1935; detail; pen and brush and black inks, graphite, and colored crayons, with smudging, over incising, on cream laid paper; signed recto, lower right, in graphite: “Picasso” (underlined); inscribed upper right, in graphite: “Boisgeloup–17 Avril XXXV; The Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Armory Show, Art Institute of Chicago, March 24–April 16, 1913.

Armory Show, International Exhibition of Modern Art. The Cubist room, Gallery 53 (northeast view), Art Institute of Chicago, March 24–April 16, 1913. On the longer wall are three of the seven Picasso artworks included in that landmark exhibition (though not in “Picasso and Chicago”).

Picasso and Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, February 20 – May 12, 2013.

By John P. Walsh

The links between this art exhibition called Picasso and Chicago going on from February 20 to May 12, 2013 at The Art Institute of Chicago and the artist Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) as well as the centenary of the landmark 1913 Armory Show is often tenuous. From virtually the beginning of his artistic practice, bragging rights on Picasso have come to the Catalan artist. Forty years after the artist’s death at 91 years old, the media talk in 2013 revolves around American collector “firsts” associated with Picasso.

Which institution collected Picasso first? (The Art Institute of Chicago in 1923.)
Which institution collected Picasso most? (The Chicago Renaissance Society by 1930.) Which institution had the first Picasso exhibition? (The Arts Club of Chicago in 1923.) Which institution first had a Picasso retrospective? (The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut in 1934.)

The Art Institute of Chicago is able to put imagination aside and quote itself in Picasso and Chicago. Nearly all of the same inventory of Picasso artwork in this 2013 show were assembled and displayed in the exact same order in a previous exhibition at the museum called Picasso in Chicago held from February 3 to March 31, 1968. According to the museum director writing at that time, that exhibition had been inspired by the dedication of the Picasso sculpture on August 15, 1967, and which remains a Chicago icon today standing five stories tall in Daley Plaza.  If attention is what Pablo craves, he has no worries.

Picasso, Nude with a Pitcher, summer 1906.

Pablo Picasso, Nude with a Pitcher, Gósol, summer 1906, oil on canvas, 39 5/8 x 31 7/8 in. (100.6 x 81 cm), Signed, l.r.: “Picasso.” The Art Institute of Chicago. Picasso painted Fernande Olivier (French, 1881-1966), his mistress at the time, during a sojourn to Gósol in the Spanish Pyrenees in the summer of 1906.

nude-with-a-pitcher-detail-summer-1906-gosol-spain-2

Pablo Picasso, Nude with a Pitcher (detail), summer 1906, Gósol, Spain. The Art Institute of Chicago. Photograph by author.

Picasso Nude with a pitcher summer 1906 Gosol Spain

Pablo Picasso, Nude with a Pitcher (detail), summer 1906, Gósol, Spain. The Art Institute of Chicago. Photograph by author.

fernande-1905

Fernande Olivier and Pablo Picasso in 1905 in Paris.

Picasso Two Saltimbanques 1905
Pablo Picasso, The Two Saltimbanques, 1905, printed and published 1913. The Art Institute of Chicago. Drypoint on ivory wove paper 120 x 91 mm (image/plate); 193 x 129 mm (sheet)

Picasso, Study for La Coiffure, 1906.

Picasso, Study for “La Coiffure,” 1905-1906. Pen and brown ink, with colored crayons and charcoal applied with stump, over graphite, on blue-gray laid paper 184 x 307 m. Signed recto, upper right, in graphite: “Picasso.” The Art Institute of Chicago. The pairs of figures are related by both involved in intimate activities, but represent two different subjects Picasso studies months apart. The first dates from 1905 and the second from 1906. The pair on the right is a study for a major painting, “La Coiffure, ” in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There are several good things about Picasso and Chicago although it doesn’t always revolve around his art. It is satisfying to know that Chicago possesses these rich resources to showcase a chronological and comprehensive Picasso show within its own collections. In these tight economic times there is a certain kudos owed to major museum curators who recognize how it can effectively display its own and nearby institutions’ holdings to produce another blockbuster show. The chronological exhibition of Chicago’s Picasso collection—and that includes works from The Art Institute of Chicago, The Arts Club of Chicago and The Renaissance Society—is front loaded providing for immediate pleasures. The visitor is greeted nearly at the door by The Old Guitarist painted by Picasso in 1903-1904—a revered Blue-period painting in the Art Institute—and for the viewer to be edified by its presence is worth any exhibition’s admission price though there was no special exhibition fee beyond the price of general admission to the museum.

Picasso, The Old Guitarist, 1903–1904.

Picasso, The Old Guitarist, 1903–1904, oil on panel, 48 3/8 x 32 1/2 in. signed, l.r.: “Picasso.” The Art Institute of Chicago.

Does a front-loaded show spell overall superficiality? The answer is: yes and no. For any future Picasso show curators should find every possibility — as I am doing already for this review — to whittle away at the volume of artwork on display for Picasso and Chicago to present its interesting parts. It is precisely the show’s downsizing opportunity that intimates its shortcoming: by displaying some of the Spanish master’s later increasingly commercial and less compelling artwork produced during a lengthy and prosperous career, the Art Institute of Chicago’s holdings of 500 Picasso works in every medium begin to reveal the challenges of building a successfully qualitative collection of contemporary art even when the artist is Picasso.

Picasso woman with her hair up 1904

Picasso, Woman with her hair up, 1904, Gouache on tan wood pulp board, 427 x 313 mm, Signed and dated recto, upper left, in blue gouache: “Picasso / 1904.” The Art Institute of Chicago.

Picasso, "Beggar with Crutch," 1904.

Pablo Picasso, “Beggar with Crutch,” Barcelona  1904, pen, brown ink and colored crayon on paper. The Art Institute of Chicago. Photograph by author.

beggar-with-crutch-barcelona-1904 pen-brown-ink-and-colored-crayon-on-paper-detail

Pablo Picasso, “Beggar with Crutch” (detail), Barcelona 1904, pen, brown ink and colored crayon on paper. The Art Institute of Chicago. Photograph by author.

Picasso, Crazy Woman with Cats, 1901.

Pablo Picasso, Crazy Woman with Cats, 1901. Oil on pulp board 17 7/16 x 16 1/16 in. (44.3 x 40.8 cm). Signed. l.r.: “Picasso.” Amy McCormick Memorial Collection, 1942. The Art Institute of Chicago.

picasso-crazy-woman-with-cats-detail-early-summer-1901-paris-oil-on-cardboard

Picasso, “Crazy Woman with Cats” (detail), early summer 1901, Paris, oil on cardboard. Amy McCormick Memorial Collection, 1942. The Art Institute of Chicago. Photograph by author. Picasso came to Paris in late May 1901 with three weeks to prepare for an exhibition at Vollard’s gallery arranged by a Catalan dealer who roomed with Picasso on the Boulevard de Clichy. Crazy Woman with Cats is one of 64 paintings and many drawings Picasso prepared for the show. Photograph by author.

Sketch young woman detail pen and brush and black ink on paper Paris 1904

Picasso, Sketch of a Young Woman (detail), pen and brush and black ink on paper, Paris 1904, gift of Robert Allerton, 1924, The Art Institute of Chicago. Allerton, a museum trustee since 1918, began in 1923 to acquire Picasso drawings with the sole purpose of donate them to the museum. Sketch of a young woman was Allerton’s first Picasso drawing purchase and museum donation in 1923. It was purchased in Chicago from Albert Roullier Galleries. Photograph by the author.

Picasso, Study of a Seated Man, 1905

Picasso, of a Seated Man, 1905. Black chalk on cream wove paper, laid down on cream Japanese paper, 329 x 216 mm, Signed recto, lower left, in graphite: “Picasso.”Gift of Robert Allerton, 1924. The Art Institute of Chicago.

Picasso, Study of Four Nudes, Paris, 1906-07.

Picasso, Study of Four Nudes, Paris, 1906-07, black crayon paper, Johnson Family collection. When 1906 ended, Picasso stopped painting instead filling sketchbooks for a new major composition: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907; The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Picasso, Female Nude, 1906.

Picasso, Female Nude, 1906. Fabricated Black chalk with graphite and smudging on paper, 31.8 x 23.5 cm. Gray Collection Trust.

Picasso, Fernande Olivier, summer 1906

Fernande Olivier, summer 1906. Charcoal, with stumping, on cream laid paper, 610 x 458 mm. Signed recto, lower right, in graphite: “Picasso” (underlined), Gift of Hermann Waldeck, 1951.

Picasso, Peasant Girls from Andorra, late summer 1906.

Picasso, Peasant Girls from Andorra, late summer 1906, Pen and brown inks, over traces of charcoal, on cream laid paper, 635 x 435 mm. Signed and dated verso, lower right, in graphite: “Picasso / 1906”; inscribed verso, lower center in graphite: “Paysannes d’Andorre.” Gift of Robert Allerton, 1930. The Art Institute of Chicago. 

Picasso, Two Nudes, Standing, fall 1906

Picasso, Two Nudes, Standing, fall 1906 Graphite, with stumping, on cream laid paper (detail). Photograph by author.

Picasso, Two Nudes, Standing, fall 1906.

Two Nudes, Standing, fall 1906 Graphite, with stumping, on cream laid paper 630 x 469 mm Signed verso, upper left, in graphite: “Picasso.” Gift of Mrs. Potter Palmer, 1944. The Art Institute of Chicago.

When Chicago in the 1920’s began its Picasso-buying frenzy another young Spanish painter twelve years younger than Picasso arrived into Paris and was immediately overtly critical of the great Picasso’s work at that time. That younger painter was Joan Miró (1893-1983) and his criticism of Picasso (more a kind of disgust)—as well as of Henri Matisse (1869-1954)—was that the pair were making all their art for their dealer. In other words, they were making art primarily for a paycheck. Such may be the inherent risk in making contemporary art that meets a market demand: the artist is tempted, after a fashion, to sell-out. Miró knew at first look—and history has proven him basically correct—that the future of contemporary painting did not rest with Picasso after about 1920. This is partly the reason why Miró turned to the “nonsense” art of the Dadaists for the future of his own painting. Keeping Miro’s judgment in the back of one’s mind at Picasso and Chicago one can see that with some notable exceptions an earlier Picasso painting—that is, from the Blue Period after 1901 to Picasso’s period of synthetic cubism until around 1920—offers cohesive artwork that contains a germ or seed of progress.  The art collection in Picasso and Chicago, much of it produced following Miró’s critical judgment of Picasso, shares his problematic.

nessus-and-deianira-juan-les-pins-september-22-1920-graphite-on-papere-with-white-ground

“Nessus and Deianira,” September 22, 1920, Graphite on tan wove paper, prepared with a white ground ,signed recto, upper left, in pen and blue ink: “Picasso” (underlined); inscribed upper left, in graphite: “22-9-20.” Just before leaving Paris in September 1920, Picasso made a series of drawings of the Greek myth of the abduction of Hercule’s bride Deianira by the centaur Nessus. Following this, Picasso became fascinated with Greek mythology to continue to make artwork using its themes. Photograph by author.

Picasso head of a woman 1909-10

Picasso, Head of A Woman (Fernande), Paris winter 1909-10, brush and gray wash on paper. Private Collection. Paintings and drawings by Picasso in winter 1909-10 continued to explore Cubism as it related to the human face and figure and its surroundings. Photograph by author.

Picasso studio Horta de Ebro summer 1909.

Picasso’s studio at Horta de Ebro (now Horta de San Juan) in Spain between May and September 1909. The painting of a Head of a Woman (at left) is one of the early Cubist artworks in “Picasso and Chicago.”

Picasso, head of woman sum 1909

Picasso, Head of a Woman, summer 1909, Oil on canvas 23 3/4 x 20 1/8 in. (60.3 x 51.1 cm), Winterbotham Collection, 1940. This painting dates to one of the most productive and inventive periods of Pablo Picasso’s career, a stay in the town of Horta de Ebro in Spain from May to September 1909. In these spring and summer months, Picasso produced artworks that rank as some of the earliest achievements of Cubism. Fernande Olivier (French, 1881-1966), Picasso’s mistress at this time, was the model for the series of heads that the artist produced.

Picasso Bust of a Woman, late 1909

Picasso, Bust of a Woman, late 1909, Watercolor and gouache on cream laid paper, laid down on buff laid paper, 363 x 278 mm overall; signed recto, lower left, in graphite: “Picasso (underlined)/ 09” Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Roy J. Friedman, 1964. The Art Institute of Chicago.

Picasso, Head of woman cast 1910

Head of a Woman (Fernande), fall 1909, bronze, 16 1/8 x 9 7/8 x 10 9/16 in. (40.7 x 20.1 x 26.9 cm), cast 1910, Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949. This work is Pablo Picasso’s first large Cubist sculpture and represents the distinctive physiognomy of Fernande Olivier, who was the artist’s model and mistress from 1905 until 1912. Before making the bust, Picasso produced countless drawings and gouaches to explore the specific form and structure of his subject’s facial features – her hair in a coil and a topknot; a bulging jaw; a well-fined depression in the center of her upper lip. The Art Institute of Chicago. Increasingly, the Fernande series’ mechanics evolved from the agility of facial expression to its individual features that became fixed signs.

Picasso, Artist and Model, 1933.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), “Artist and Model,” Cannes, July 24, 1933, watercolor and pen and black ink on paper. Gray Collection trust. Photograph by author.

artist-and-model-cannes-july-24-1933-watercolor-and-pen-and-black-ink-on-paper-1

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), “Artist and Model” (detail), Cannes, July 24, 1933, watercolor and pen and black ink on paper. Gray Collection trust. Photograph by author.

artist-and-model-cannes-july-24-1933-watercolor-and-pen-and-black-ink-on-paper-2

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), “Artist and Model” (detail), Cannes, July 24, 1933, watercolor and pen and black ink on paper. Gray Collection trust. Photograph by author.

Picasso signature

Picasso, “Artist and Model,” Cannes, July 24, 1933, artist signature. Photograph by author.

kahnweiler 1910

Picasso, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, autumn 1910, Oil on canvas, 39 9/16 x 28 9/16 in. (100.4 x 72.4 cm) Gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman in memory of Charles B. Goodspeed, 1948. The Art Institute of Chicago. German-born Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884-1979) opened an art gallery in Paris in 1907. The next year he  began representing Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and introduced him to Georges Braque (1882-1963). Kahnweiler championed these artists’ revolutionary experiment with Cubism and purchased most of their paintings between 1908 and 1915. Kahnweiler sat for Picasso up to thirty times for this portrait.

Portrait_de_Picasso,_1908

Portrait photograph of Pablo Picasso, 1908.

Picasso Harlequin 1916

Picasso, Head of Harlequin, 1916, The Art Institute of Chicago. Photograph by author.

Picasso Harlequin Guitar c. 1916

Picasso, Harlequin Playing the Guitar, c. 1916, Elden collection. Photograph by author.

Picasso Head Arts Club

Picasso, Head of a Woman, 1922, The Arts Club of Chicago, purchased 1926. Photograph by author.

Olga_Khokhlova_in_Picasso's_Montrouge_studio,_spring_1918 (1)

Olga Khokhlova (1891-1955) in Picasso’s Montrouge studio, spring 1918. Olga married Picasso on July 12, 1918, at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris. On February 4, 1921, she gave birth to their son Paulo (1921-1975). After that, Olga and Picasso’s relationship deteriorated though they never divorced. Olga died in Cannes in 1955.

Picasso still life 1922

Picasso, Still Life, February 4, 1922, Oil on canvas 32 1/8 x 39 5/8 in. (81.6 x 100.3 cm), Dated, u.l.: “4-2-22-.” Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment, 1953. Picasso produced a series of Cubist still lifes in 1922 that are simplified to flat planes in a patterned framework. Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) bought this canvas in 1923 to add to her collection of more than 30 Picasso paintings and even more of his drawings and watercolors. This still life was Stein’s last purchase of a painting by Picasso.

Picasso flute and nude, 1932

Picasso, Double Flute Player and Reclining Nude, October 22, 1932, pen and ink with brush and black wash and scraping on paper, Shapiro collection, 1992. The Art Institute of Chicago. In the late summer and fall of 1932, Picasso and Marie-Thérèse Walter (French, 1909-1977), the artist’s mistress from 1927 to 1935, were together in Boisgeloup. Picasso made three drawings on the same day on a theme of lovers serenading one another.

Picasso_marietherese

Marie-Thérèse Walter and Pablo Picasso. Their relationship began when she was seventeen and he was 45 years old and married to Olga Khokhlova (Ukraine, 1891-1955).

Picasso, Minotaur and horse, 1935

Picasso, Minotaur and Wounded Horse, Boisgeloup, April 17, 1935, Pen and brush and black inks, graphite, and colored crayons, with smudging, over incising, on cream laid paper, 343 x 515 mm Signed recto, lower right, in graphite: “Picasso” (underlined); inscribed upper right, in graphite: “Boisgeloup–17 Avril XXXV” The Art Institute of Chicago. Picasso transmogrifies the theme of bullfighting where the Minotaur – half-man and half bull – is the aggressor in the bullring terrorizing the horse.

Picasso Minotaur and Wounded Horse 1935

Picasso, Minotaur and Wounded Horse, 1935 (detail). Photograph by author.

 

The Red Armchair of 1931 is hung at what is about the show’s halfway point. At this point, I might have exited. Yet where Miró’s critical judgment lags for me is that Picasso’s art is never incompetent or boring. His art is perceptibly linear and, despite its erotic themes, often contains qualities which satisfy and cleanse a critical eye. Picasso’s art is ever ancient and ever new, and distinctly European. For me, seeing a Picasso connotes a stroll in Paris or feeling a sunburn on the face after revelry and reverie along the Mediterranean coast. Quite readily the show produced these kinds of vicarious experiences as one soaked up a plethora of Picasso’s later, lesser work in utilitarian Regenstein Hall.

There are 250 items on display in Picasso and Chicago—and includes paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics— which begin to manifest Pablo Picasso’s profligate artistic genius. Picasso and Chicago may have closed, but these works in Chicago’s various cultural institutions and private collections can still often be savored with the simplicity of a museum visit. A visitor may do no better than to start with a beeline to The Art Institute of Chicago to see Picasso’s The Old Guitarist and The Red Armchair and begin one’s own new absorption and critique of the Spanish master’s work whose home is in Chicago.Picasso

The Red Armchair, December 16, 1931

Detail of “The Red Armchair,” December 16, 1931; oil and ripolin on panel; signed, u.r.: “Picasso”; The Art Institute of Chicago. Photograph by author. 
Picasso Head of Woman (Dora Maar) 1939

Picasso, Head of Woman (Dora Maar), Paris, April 1, 1939, oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm. Private collection. Maar met Picasso in 1936 at the Cafe des Deux Magots in Paris. Her liaison with Picasso ended in 1943. Photograph by the author.

weeping woman dora maar 1937

Weeping Woman I, July 1, 1937. Drypoint, aquatint, and etching, with scraping on copper in black on ivory laid paper, 695 x 497 mm (plate); 774 x 568 mm (sheet). The Art Institute of Chicago. Explaining his penchant for making portraits of his mistress weeping, Picasso explained: “For years, I’ve painted her in tortured forms, not through sadism and not through pleasure either – just obeying a vision that forced himself on me.” By the end of their relationship Picasso confessed, “I can only see her weeping.”

Dora Maar Picasso Lee Miller 1937

From left: Dora Maar, Picasso, Lee Miller in 1937.

1951 Villa in Vallauris

Picasso, Villa in Vallauris, Vallauris, Feb., 4, 1951, oil on panel. 88.9 x 116.2 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Picasso large vase 1950

Picasso, large vase with dancers, Vallauris, 1950, red earthenware clay, ground painted in white engobe, 71.2 cm. Crown collection.

picasso-gilot-madoura-pottery

Picasso and Françoise Gilot (b. 1921) at Madoura pottery, Vallauris, 1953. Gilot was lover and muse to Picasso from 1943 to 1953. They had two children, Claude and Paloma. On a personal note, I heard and met Françoise Gilot who was accompanied by her husband Jonas Sauk, in the early 1990’s at a speaking event in Chicago at the Alliance Française.

Picasso Jacqueline 1962

Picasso, Portrait of Jacqueline, Mougins, Dec. 28, 1962, graphite with smudging and black ballpoint pen on paper. 34.9 x 25 cm., Gray Collection Trust.

Picasso Jacqueline 1959

Picasso, Jacqueline, Cannes or Vauvenargues, October 17, 1959, Linocut in colors on paper, 63.8 x 53 cm., Crown collection. Jacqueline Roque was the muse and second wife of Pablo Picasso. Their marriage lasted 11 years until his death, during which time he created over 400 portraits of her, more than any of Picasso’s other loves.

Jacqueline and Pablo Picasso.

Picasso and Jacqueline, his second wife. Pablo Picasso met Jacqueline Roque (1927-1986) in 1953 when she was 26 years old and he was 72. He romanced her until she agreed to date him. Only in 1955, when Picasso’s first wife Olga Khokhlova died, did Picasso decide to marry Jacqueline in Vallauris in 1961. They were married until Picasso’s death in 1973.

Picasso Chicago

Picasso and Chicago.

 

SOURCES:
Miró, Janis Mink, Taschen, 2006.
Je suis Le Cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso, 1986, Arnoldo  Mondadori Editore, Verona, Italy.
Picasso and Chicago 100 years, 100 works, Stephanie D’Alessandro, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2013.
Picasso in Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1968.
http://michiganavemag.com/living/articles/aic-opens-picasso-and-chicago
http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780300184525http://chicagoist.com/2013/05/11/last_chance_to_see_picasso_and_chic.php

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

John P. Walsh