Contemporaneous Extension


The final hours

Summer traipses in, accompanied by effervescent vibes and the pristine motivations of the lasting sunshine. In the hectic three months that have been consumed by the BOMB column, I’ve lost hold on the breathtaking shows at the major museums in New York City. Thus, in the final hours, I’ve seized my mistake before it was fully realized.

I started last week by hitting the Met to see the Picasso exhibition just prior to its closing. It was naturally slammed on that Tuesday afternoon, but no matter. This exhibit was particularly relevant seeing as I’ve been reading Life With Picasso, written by his lover of ten years, Francoise Gilot, for the past few weeks.  In reading the novel and seeing the show after I’d been through the bulk of it, it was difficult not to despise Picasso’s machismo, his overzealous defamation of Gilot’s character. In viewing the show at the Met, I realized that those characteristic burdens (which he, naturally, would never have specified as weakness) are exactly what factor into the confidence of his paintings, the innovation of his hand.

Picasso was like a pig in shit when he discovered a new media, a new technique to master. Be it oil paint, lithography, sculpture, or watercolor, he was a reclusive renaissance man concerned with his art above all else (even himself). In going through the exhibition, many of my favorites are encompassed in the late 1930’s/early 1940’s. Surprisingly enough, he was thoroughly invested in his relation with Dora Maar at the time, who he often painted but was very much of a stoic, even damned, woman. The paintings from this period, like ‘Dora Maar in a Wicker Chair’ (1938), ‘Man with a Lollipop’ (1938), and ‘Reading at a Table’ (1934). His prolific printing career was also fully bestowed upon me at this show. Below are my favorites from the show:

'The Frugal Repast,' 1904 (printed 1913 by Louis Fort), etching, 65.2 x 50 cm.

'The Frugal Repast,' 1904 (printed 1913 by Louis Fort), etching, 65.2 x 50 cm.

This image pretty much established Picasso as a printmaker and its understandable why: the cross-hatching, the subtlety of emotion. The gentleman is consistent with other renderings he’d done in paint of the emaciated, suffering artist in his Blue Period (i.e ‘The Old Guitarist,’ ‘The Blind Man’s Meal’) . It flows out of the pageantry but latent loneliness and misery of his Saltimbanques.

'Head of a Woman,' 1908, watercolor on paper, 31.8 x 24.1 cm

'Head of a Woman,' 1908, watercolor on paper, 31.8 x 24.1 cm

A powerful motif of the Oceanic/African masks Picasso adopted prior to the Cubist period (usually referred to as ‘Protocubism’). This one was so slight, but so flawless.

'Seated Man Reading a Newspaper,' 1912, ink on paper, 30.8 x 19.7cm

'Seated Man Reading a Newspaper,' 1912, ink on paper, 30.8 x 19.7cm

Although its from the last few moments of Analytic Cubism, developed jointly by Braque and Picasso, it’s an example of the bare-bones of the craft as well as Picasso’s humor. Breaking the gentleman down into geometric shapes while utilizing the bare minimum of shading/color, Picasso rips this man’s plane apart and presents it with one outlook. The shading, which was rare when you switched over to Synthetic Cubism (looking more to jumble worlds and media together), stomps on the space. I think its a really clear example of the style that would run off toward complication to the point of nausea. What a mental exercise!!

'Head of a Man,' 1925-26 (printed 1961 by Jacques Frélaut), etching, 30.8 x 24.1 cm

'Head of a Man,' 1925-26 (printed 1961 by Jacques Frélaut), etching, 30.8 x 24.1 cm

A beaut harking back to the principles of Analytic Cubism it seems. He flattens the picture plan and presents the head from all angles, almost even in movement turning to his left. Fascinating.

'Nude Standing by the Sea,' 1929, oil on canvas, 129.9 x 96.8 cm

'Nude Standing by the Sea,' 1929, oil on canvas, 129.9 x 96.8 cm

Definitely a favorite motif of mine: the archaic, stone female standing amidst a blue backdrop of the sea, the rejuvenating, unpredictable, soothing power. I like the stretch of her limbs, and how Picasso always managed to prominently fit tits in despite the ambiguity of the frame (figures.).

'Young Man with a Bull's Mask, Faun, and Profile of a Woman,' 1934 (printed 1961 by Jacques Frélaut), etching, 40 x 50.8 cm

'Young Man with a Bull's Mask, Faun, and Profile of a Woman,' 1934 (printed 1961 by Jacques Frélaut), etching, 40 x 50.8 cm

Definitive tour de force. You’ve got the sculptural, ancient realism of Grecian figures that Picasso did so well combined with the more mythological, loose stylings of the figures in the middle and on the right. The variety of line is stupendously simple but effective.

'Reading at a Table,' 1934, oil on canvas, 162.2 x 130.5cm

'Reading at a Table,' 1934, oil on canvas, 162.2 x 130.5cm

'Dora Maar in a Wicker Chair,' 1938; ink, charcoal, and pastel on paper, 77.5 x 57.2 cm

'Dora Maar in a Wicker Chair,' 1938; ink, charcoal, and pastel on paper, 77.5 x 57.2 cm

Dora Maar was apparently Picasso’s intellectual counterpoint, attractive in her bourgeoisie sass. We see the angularity with which he approached her aesthetically, the beautiful but cold widow.

'Man with a Lollipop,' 1938, oil on paper (mounted on canvas), 68.3 x 45.4cm

'Man with a Lollipop,' 1938, oil on paper (mounted on canvas), 68.3 x 45.4cm

As per discussed above, humorous in the crude way Picasso seemed to be. Sexual, dirty, and somehow still desperate.

'Seated Nude,' 1943, Graphite on paper, 65.4 x 50.8 cm

'Seated Nude,' 1943, Graphite on paper, 65.4 x 50.8 cm

Epic simplicity. Gilot told funny stories about Picasso making her dine and hang around the house nude so he could further acquire his grasp on the human body. They had just started their romance, so I’m not sure if this is even her, but its what I could imagine his memory would serve him.

'Jacqueline Leaning on Her Elbows,' 1959, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 75.2 x 62.2 cm

'Jacqueline Leaning on Her Elbows,' 1959, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 75.2 x 62.2 cm

Jacqueline Roque was Picasso’s final muse and only his second wife. The classical profile is such a strong point of his portraits of her, the simplicity of this print is immediate and stunning.

'Bacchanal with Kid and Spectator,' 1959, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 62.2 x 75.2 cm

'Bacchanal with Kid and Spectator,' 1959, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 62.2 x 75.2 cm

Absolutely joyous. Amid the most ideal balance of color, every figure is necessary in relation to the others. Even the starbursts dance so seamlessly between decorative autumn corn husks, frayed rope, and pure jubilee. They bind the figures to the foreground and while they erupt.

'Bacchanal with an Acrobat,' 1959, linoleum cut, 62.2 x 75.2 cm

'Bacchanal with an Acrobat,' 1959, linoleum cut, 62.2 x 75.2 cm

A second of several more editions of this print. Utilizing reductive printing methods, Picasso mastered laying several tones on one carved surface for his prints (in this case, linoleum).  The geometry of the meadow contrasts the nonchalance of the sky, content in its lucid void.

'Still life with a Snack II,' 1962, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 74.3 x 62.2 cm

'Still life with a Snack II,' 1962, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 74.3 x 62.2 cm

Once again, the simplicity is righteous. The piece of bread looks so grotesque, so moldy even. The slinky curvature of the bottle quickens the light’s beams; its a solid composition.

'Still Life with a Glass by Lamplight,' 1962, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 62.2 x 75.2 cm

'Still Life with a Glass by Lamplight,' 1962, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 62.2 x 75.2 cm

Once again, the interaction between the light and the objects…

'Man With a Ruff,' 1963, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 62.2 x 44.1 cm

'Man With a Ruff,' 1963, linoleum cut (printed by Arnéra), 62.2 x 44.1 cm

Picasso experimented with the ruff in a few linoleum cuts of Jacqueline in and around 1963. They go through varying stages of abstraction and wooziness, with this one being the sharpest and also most similar to a caricature. I also couldn’t help but laugh out loud at this dignified dope and his psychedelic overtones.

'Amorous Couple: Rapahel and the Fornarina, End, from 347 Suite,' 1968, etching (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 28.3 x 34.8 cm

'Amorous Couple: Raphael and the Fornarina, End, from 347 Suite,' 1968, etching (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 28.3 x 34.8 cm

Swoon. So juicy, like somebody I know…

'Three Old Friends Visiting: Man Smoking, Woman Keeping Watch, from 347 Suite,' 1968, aquatint (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 32.6 x 40.3 cm

'Three Old Friends Visiting: Man Smoking, Woman Keeping Watch, from 347 Suite,' 1968, aquatint (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 32.6 x 40.3 cm

Loving the sketchiness of this aquatint. Pushing the brushstrokes through in his prints, relaying that sense of the artist’s hand, is really what contrasts his grotesque caricatures into likenesses.

'Bearded Painter in a Dressing Gown with Two Nude Women and a Visitor, from 347 Suite,' 1968, Sugar-lift aquatint (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 28.3 x 37.8 cm

'Bearded Painter in a Dressing Gown with Two Nude Women and a Visitor, from 347 Suite,' 1968, Sugar-lift aquatint (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 28.3 x 37.8 cm

Discovered this sugar-lift aquatint in this exhibit. Picasso handles it delicately, using gray not for shadows but to pronounce the bulk of objects in the frame and to revel in contour.

'Belly Dancer with a Stout Spectator, from 347 Suite,' 1968, etching (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 28.2 x 37.4 cm

'Belly Dancer with a Stout Spectator, from 347 Suite,' 1968, etching (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 28.2 x 37.4 cm

Enamored with the mutated scale and the looseness of form. Picasso’s form strike as so potent yet so graceful, as if hallucinated by the page itself.

'Las Meninas and Gentlemen in the Sierra, from 347 Suite,' 1968, Sugar-lift aquatint (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 50.2 x 65.3 cm

'Las Meninas and Gentlemen in the Sierra, from 347 Suite,' 1968, Sugar-lift aquatint (printed by Aldo and Piero Crommelynck), 50.2 x 65.3 cm

Its thrilling how understated this print is and how much information it manages to relay. From the smirks on the gentlemen to the tight angles of the three ladies, it looks like a candid impression from memory. Its effervescent.

The next two weeks should be ripe with hopping to and fro from the last of the summer shows. Until then!

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