Category Archives: Art review

REVIEW: “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms,” The Art Institute of Chicago, February 14 to May 10, 2016.

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Van Gogh’s Bedrooms at The Art Institute of Chicago, February 14 to May 10, 2016. The photograph depicts the three versions of Van Gogh’s “Bedroom” in Arles, France, in this blockbuster exhibition’s penultimate gallery.

From the collections (left to right) of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris (1889), The Art Institute of Chicago (1889), and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (1888).

The three masterworks were gathered together side by side in North America for the first time in art history.

By John P. Walsh. May 6, 2016.

I saw the Van Gogh’s Bedrooms exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago (February 14-May 10, 2016) on the last Friday afternoon before the show closed. The museum that day was drawing a large crowd and it was challenging to navigate through the multi-room art show in a mass of frequently immobile art lovers. Exactly for what cause some stationary patrons might be transfixed could only be speculated upon but often no art was present. No one I think comes to art shows to be caught in a logjam of people yet that recurrent phenomenon in Van Gogh’s Bedrooms soon became one of its unpleasant features. The expansive exhibition space—striking for its illogical reasoning to display three relatively small masterpieces—proved impractical, or at least a two-edged sword, in terms of containing its throngs.

Those three featured paintings are this show’s raison d’être and prove a marvelous highlight after reaching them by way of a dozen or so high-ceiling galleries. Once arrived to the show’s penultimate room, my eyes settled on the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam’s version as the most intriguing of the three superficially identical works. The other two versions are from the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

When 35-year-old Van Gogh painted his The Bedroom series starting in October 1888, the Dutchman had been an artist only a short while: about 7 years. This had followed a variety of other occupations, although Van Gogh began his professional life as an art dealer.  By late 1888—less than two years before his death by self-inflicted gunshot in Auvers-sur-Oise in July 1890—Van Gogh had traveled long and far from his beginnings in North Brabant. He arrived into Paris in 1885 to paint and join his brother Theo who was an avant-garde art dealer in the Rue Montmartre. Looking to sell more of his artwork, he began painting in the bright Impressionist style for which Van Gogh is probably most famous today.  By February 1888 Van Gogh relocated to Arles in the South of France on account of his health and to possibly start an art colony.  Still quite poor and alone, this roughly 15-month period in Arles proved to be prolific for the artist’s production when Van Gogh completed 200 paintings, and over 100 drawings and watercolors. Many of Van Gogh’s most famous works were created in this fecund period—for example, his portraits of Eugène Boch (Musée d’Orsay), Postman Joseph Roulin and Augustine Roulin (both Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)  and Madame Ginoux (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) among several others; sunflowers and irises such as Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers (National Gallery, London), Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers (Neue Pinakothek, Munich) and Irises (Getty Museum, Los Angeles); 15 canvases of cypresses; and his iconic Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin in the Harvard Art Museums.

None of these contextual artworks were in the Chicago show but demonstrate the range and depth of Van Gogh’s artistic vision in the same time period that The Bedrooms—which shared his body of work’s intoxication with color and decorative strategieswere painted. Despite its title—Van Gogh’s Bedrooms—this show is not content to let their presence in Chicago suffice. Instead, much of the other parts of this massive show were from the Art Institute’s permanent collection of mostly Barbizon and Impressionist artwork.  Perhaps if they had been left on whatever museum walls from which they had come, these fine artworks might have maintained an even greater impact for themselves and this show’s ultimate purpose than crowding them onto walls into this special exhibition space.  That said, the condensed interpretive curatorial exercise of parts of the permanent collection in this show could prove interesting for visitors who are not willing or able to visit other parts of the museum. In a show that took on the formula of a typical Regenstein Hall blockbuster, its propensity for Impressionist rehash (“delve” was the museum’s word) had a boring art textbook’s sensibility. That the show dipped into the museum storehouse to retrieve the life-size maquette of the Yellow House from AIC’s vastly superior exhibition Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South in 2001, produced a dispiriting effect on at least one viewer who recognized it. But so far I am quibbling: this AIC exhibition brings together the powerful canon of all three versions of Van Gogh’s The Bedroom for the first time in North America which is very special and undoubtedly sufficient to any museum goer’s time and interest. I don’t believe, however, that their full artistic power was best served by being able to see these objects intensely advertised in the media markets and then only hung at the show’s virtual end following a cacophony of mostly extraneous art historical resources however severely earnestly presented. Instead, a surfeit of front-loaded artistic riches labors to obscure these significant Van Goghs that finally appear in the second to last gallery, all of which are jam-packed with art, people, various filmic explorations, somewhat bloviating wall texts, whole house reconstructions, etc.

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Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam,  October 1888. 72.4 x 91.3 cm.

CHGO Vincent van Gogh. The Bedroom, 1889. The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.exh_vangogh_bedroom_main_480

Chicago, 1889. 72.4 x 91.3 cm. Version Van Gogh painted in the asylum at St. Rémy.

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Paris, 1889. 57.5 x 74 cm. Destitute bachelor artist Van Gogh gave this version to his mother and sister to assure them in part that he was working..

It is certainly obvious that Van Gogh’s Bedrooms possibly could have benefited by not pulling out all the stops (AIC: “in-depth study”) but to focus on the three colorful masterpieces uniquely gathered in their essential power. If one wants to read blow by blow explanations of virtually every curatorial application in the show, one might turn to other reviews cited in “Further Reading” below. The equitably in-depth appreciation of this trio of Van Gogh worksand minus the Disney World trappingsmight be advanced using timed tickets (as done for Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South) and within a pared down and simpler exhibition scope. The way things are constructed by the show’s curator Gloria Groom, Chair of European Painting and Sculpture at The Art Institute of Chicago, the exhibition transmits encyclopedic knowledge while largely missing a tangible evocation of bachelor Van Gogh’s humble petit boulevard persona who produced in Arles in 1888 and in Saint-Rémy in 1889 these bold canvases of his simple bedroom and even gifting one of the versions (the one now in Paris) to his aged mother and sister to reassure them in his destitution. For Van Gogh the motif of his private and hard-featured bedroom in Arles continued his bold self-expression in a tightly woven and complex painting composed in broad outlines using a many-hued post-impressionistic palette in thick impasto. Despite Van Gogh’s reputation as madhe mutilated his ear in this bedroom in December 1888he soon carried on painting two more versions of The Bedroom (the last one slightly reduced) with the apparent added intention to express to his family and friends that the artist was as stable and restful as his artistic subject.

What should an exhibition advertised as Van Gogh’s Three Bedrooms wish to have its spectators looking for and come away with? By the time a visitor reaches Van Gogh’s three paintings after plowing through the aforesaid gauntlet of people and well-known Chicago art resources, the exhibition almost runs the danger of displaying these highly-prized artworks not as denouement but incidental. These Van Gogh paintings are hardly allowed to speak freely for themselves. Of course they have a fascinating history but to what degree should these particular artworks’ written history be simultaneous to their exhibition? Thinking of the viewer, does the display of three paintings of an artist’s bedroom (albeit Vincent Van Gogh’s) that when placed side by side measures the whole of about ten feet across merit thousands of cubic feet of mostly academic groundwork before a viewer can even see them? To what degree are artistic exhibition and their intellectual exposition necessarily complementary since many museum art shows follow this tactic?

The final gallery after the display of the three bedrooms continued Van Gogh’s Bedrooms’ devotion to comprehensive information and theatricalityalthough a side-by-side blow-up of the bedrooms’ diverging painterly details was perhaps the most useful techie display so to appreciate the artist’s handling of the individual paintings. Yet it begged a question: could this orientation to detail, to seeing the painting, somehow serve as the exhibition’s primary or sole introduction, such as in a film theater? This last gallery then led directly to the ubiquitous and depressing gift shop hosting the galleries’ multitude disporting themselves basically as they did in and among the art. Hearing its timbre I wondered if a unique opportunity to view together these three Van Gogh bedroom paintings“the first time in North America”had under- or overplayed its hand? As its elemental objective, had the exhibition Van Gogh’s Bedrooms rightly oriented and imparted to its viewers an intimate and perhaps personally revealing look into these three sensitive treasures of Van Gogh’s oeuvre? Or had the artist Van Gogh merely omitted to paint into his own scene the proverbial kitchen sink?

FURTHER READING:

REVIEW: “Picasso and Chicago,” The Art Institute of Chicago, February 20 – May 12, 2013.

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 long wall are three of seven Picasso artworks included in that landmark exhibition. None are in “Picasso and Chicago” in 2013.

By John P. Walsh.

Almost as long as Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was making his art, there have been bragging rights on the Catalan artist that have come from others. Even 40 years after the artist’s death at 91 years old, media talk in 2013 for Picasso and Chicago, a large art exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago from February 20 to May 12, 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 had the first 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, a 5-story Chicago icon that still stands enigimatically in Daley Plaza.  If public attention is what Pablo Picasso craves, he has no worry.

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 working sojourn to Gósol in the Spanish Pyrenees in the summer of 1906.

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Picasso Nude with a pitcher summer 1906 Gosol Spain

Images above: Pablo Picasso, Nude with a Pitcher (detail).

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Fernande Olivier and Pablo Picasso in 1905 in Paris.

Picasso, Fernande Olivier, summer 1906

Picasso, Fernande Olivier, summer 1906, Charcoal, with stumping, on cream laid paper, Signed recto, lower right, in graphite: “Picasso” (underlined), The Art Institute of Chicago.

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 excellent reasons to see Picasso and Chicago in 2013 and they don’t always revolve around his art. It is a matter for city pride to know that Chicago possesses within its own collections the breadth of art resources to showcase, in chronological order, this Picasso show comprehensive of every major period. In these tight economic times kudos goes out to museum curators who have effectively displayed a vast amount and range of artwork by Pablo Picasso to produce a blockbuster show. The chronological exhibition of Picasso’s art includes works from The Art Institute of Chicago, The Arts Club of Chicago and The Renaissance Society and 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.

If front-loaded, does the rest of the show retain the same high interest? The answer is: yes and no. For all future Picasso shows in Chicago, curators can find several avenues to whittle away at the volume of artwork on display for Picasso and Chicago to present its most interesting parts. That downsizing opportunity intimates this show’s arguable shortcoming: as it displays the Spanish master’s later, increasingly commercial artwork, the Art Institute of Chicago’s 500 Picasso works in all mediums begins to reveal the challenges of building a seamlessly 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.
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Images above: Pablo Picasso, Beggar with Crutch, Barcelona  1904, pen, brown ink and colored crayon on paper. The Art Institute of Chicago. 

Picasso, Crazy Woman with Cats, 1901.

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Images above: 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. 

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.

Picasso, Study of a Seated Man, 1905

Picasso, Portrait 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, Two Nudes, Standing, fall 1906

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

Picasso, Two Nudes, Standing, fall 1906.

In the early 1920’s as Chicago started a buying frenzy of Picasso, 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).

Miró’s criticism of Picasso as well as of Henri Matisse (1869-1954)— it was more a kind of disgust—was basically that the pair, once young avant-gardists, were making all their art for their dealer. In other words, the older artists were making contemporary art mainly for the money. Such may be an inherent risk in making art that meets a market demand in that the artist is tempted to, after a fashion, sell-out. Miró knew at first look—and history has proven him basically correct—that the future of contemporary painting no longer rested in Picasso’s hands 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 one’s mind at Picasso and Chicago one sees that, notable exceptions made, an earlier Picasso painting—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.

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 an art-hungry 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 some Mediterranean coast. Quite readily the show produced these kinds of vicarious experiences for me as i soaked up a plethora of Picasso’s later, lesser work in utilitarian Regenstein Hall.

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.

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. 

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

Picasso, 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. The Fernande series’ evolved from the agility of facial expression to its individual features that became fixed signs.

Picasso, Artist and Model, 1933.
artist-and-model-cannes-july-24-1933-watercolor-and-pen-and-black-ink-on-paper-1
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Picasso signature

Images above: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Artist and Model, Cannes, July 24, 1933, watercolor and pen and black ink on paper. Gray Collection trust.

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 Guitar c. 1916

Picasso, Harlequin Playing the Guitar, c. 1916, Elden collection.

Picasso Harlequin 1916

Picasso, Head of Harlequin, 1916, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Picasso Head Arts Club

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

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

See article in Architectural Digest by Nick Mafi dated July 28, 2020 on the recent discovery associated with the Picasso painting above.  https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/famed-pablo-picasso-painting-reveals-abandoned-artwork-beneath

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

Below: 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 Picasso was 45 years old and married to Olga Khokhlova.

Picasso, Minotaur and horse, 1935

Images above and below: 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

Picasso, The Red Armchair, and detail below, oil and ripolin on panel; signed, u.r.: “Picasso,” oil and ripolin on panel, The Art Institute of Chicago.

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 Café des Deux Magots in Paris. Her liaison with Picasso ended in 1943.

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. I met Françoise Gilot at the Alliance Française de Chicago in the early 1990’s. Gilot was accompanied by her husband Jonas Sauk at a speaking event and made it a point of not talking about Pablo.

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

Below: 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

The Chicago Picasso, 1967. In situ in Daley Plaza in Downtown Chicago, 2013. Photograph by author.

There are 250 items on display in Picasso and Chicago—including paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics—and only begins to manifest the prodigious genius of Pablo Picasso.

Picasso and Chicago may have closed, but many, if not most, of these works in Chicago’s cultural institutions and private collections can be savored with the simplicity of a museum visit. A visitor can do no better than visit The Art Institute of Chicago and see Picasso’s The Old Guitarist and The Red Armchair. By that begins one’s own new adventure of absorption of the Spanish master’s artwork whose home is Chicago. The 2013 show is over but more than a few of its best parts are on display right now in these institutions’ permanent collections.

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