NGV: ‘The Picasso Century’

5 mins reading

“Pure art”

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Pablo Picasso is regarded as one of the most important and influential figures in twentieth-century Western art. This recognition is partially due to Picasso’s overwhelmingly prolific career. The Spaniard created more than 20,000 artworks via a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing and ceramics. Of course, painting is the primary medium with which the majority of people are familiar. As a young boy, Picasso displayed a natural propensity for art, culminating in the execution of lifelike portraits during his teenage years. Despite requiring a tremendous amount of skill, focus, patience, even education, it is arguable that portraiture falls short of the “pure art” classification. It is, however, very much a reliable indicator of pure creative potential. With a strong foundation in technique and perspective, Picasso moved to Paris in his early-twenties. It was at precisely this point in his life that he began to implement a more modern and individual approach to making art. Specifically, between 1908 and 1911, Picasso and fellow artist George Braque “invented” – a very contentious word within the creative community – a style called Cubism. It was this innovative style that embodied a radical new approach to the representation of space and form – and the rest, as they say, is history.

NGV ‘The Picasso Century’, Melbourne

Pablo Picasso Portrait of a woman (Portrait de femme) 1938 oil on canvas 98.0 × 77.5 cm

Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne-Centre de création industrielle Gift of the artist, 1947 (AM 2729 P) © Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency, 2022. Photo: © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerditchian/Dist. RMN-GP

From 10 June, 2022, works spanning the career of Pablo Picasso will be on show for locals and non-locals, alike, during the NGV International’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition ‘The Picasso Century’. This blockbuster exhibition charts Picasso’s extraordinary career alongside the works of nearly 60 other artists of his time, including the aforementioned George Braque, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Dorothea Tanning, Marie Laurencin and Gertrude Stein. The Melbourne world premiere will feature more than 70 of Picasso’s works and more than 100 pieces by other groundbreaking artists, the latter having been sourced from French national collections and the NGV Collection. As well, many of the nearly 200 total works displayed in the exhibition have, amazingly, never before been seen in Australia. In other words, visitors are guaranteed a particularly special and memorable experience as they navigate the twists and turns of Picasso’s career, exploring Cubism, Surrealism, the Blue Period and 12 additional thematic sections. When viewed and considered holistically, ‘The Picasso Century’ connects the artistic maverick’s iconic creations to his personal creative community and to the wider world around him. The exhibition provides an all-important and possibly never-before-considered relative context that penetrates the liaisons that helped create Pablo Picasso the international artist and explores how his monumental creative contributions have caused ripples throughout all aspects of society.

NGV ‘The Picasso Century’, Melbourne

Pablo Picasso Portrait of a man (Portrait d’homme) winter 1902–03 oil on canvas 93.0 × 78.0 cm

Musée national Picasso-Paris Donated in lieu of tax, 1979 © Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency, 2022 Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau © RMN – Grand Palais – Mathieu Rabeau

‘The Picasso Century’ is the latest NGV exhibition in the Winter Masterpieces series, which has brought major international art exhibitions exclusively to Melbourne since 2004. It is presented by the National Gallery of Victoria in partnership with Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Musée National Picasso-Paris and curated by Didier Ottinger, Deputy Director of Centre Pompidou’s Musée National d’Art Modèrne. ‘The Picasso Century’ will be on display until 9 October, 2022, at the NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road. NGV Director Tony Ellwood summarises the manifest energy of the exhibition: “Through more than 170 works of art, audiences will come to appreciate the many ways in which Picasso influenced, and was influenced by, the artistic community that surrounded him.” As a profound complement, American author Tom Robbins summarises the exhibition’s latent energy: “If you take any activity – any art, any discipline, any skill – take it and push it as far as it will go, push it beyond where it has ever been before, push it to the wildest edges of edges, then you force it into the realm of magic.” And we would all unanimously agree that Pablo Picasso was a bona fide magician whose courage and bravery will indefinitely continue to shape the collective creative consciousness.

NGV ‘The Picasso Century’, Melbourne

Pablo PICASSO Weeping woman (1937) oil on canvas 55.2 x 46.2 cm

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased by donors of The Art Foundation of Victoria, with the assistance of the Jack and Genia Liberman family, Founder Benefactor, 1986 IC1-1986 © Pablo Picasso/Succession Pablo Picasso. Licensed by Copyright Agency, Australia