2020 Masters Exhibit

The magnitude of Picasso’s impact is due not only to the vast output of his long career, but also to his numerous bold, even audacious moves beyond the expected. He worked vigorously from his earliest studio years, in a space appointed by his father when he was just a boy, up through the year of his death in 1973, producing in excess of 20,000 works in painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, set and costume design, and sculpture. Driven by a passionate compulsion to create and largely unconcerned with the sort of criticism that bound other artists to convention, Picasso broke rules that his peers and predecessors had failed to even recognize as binding. He fractured his subject matter into competing, simultaneous perspectives, bent classical narratives to describe his personal amorous trysts, baffled master printmakers when methods that should have destroyed the printing plate itself turned out successful imagery time after time, and seemed overall to transcend artistic movements and cultural expectations.

Picasso as a pillar of modern art history is fraught. His notorious character, perhaps sometimes as much a function of his creation as the artwork, calls for a simultaneous recognition of brilliance and oblivion, inspiration and control, creative and destructive force. But Picasso imbues meaning by embedding passion. His muses are not benign angels of inspiration nor are they general in any sense; they are the loves of his life, also alternatingly his combatants, his challengers, his provocateurs. The temperament of his relationships pervades his depictions - and that is conveyed through the women in his life but extends to his relationship to war, death, political ideals, and his sense of the state of the world.