From Fauvism to Surrealism: A Journey Through the Artistic Evolution of Picasso and his Time
The exhibition "Picasso and his time" is an event that art enthusiasts in Tokyo have been eagerly anticipating for months. As the autumn leaves begin to fall and the city is enveloped in a golden haze, the National Museum of Western Art in Ueno is the perfect setting for this unique and exciting display of some of the most important works of the 20th century.
Upon entering the museum, visitors are immediately struck by the energy and excitement in the air. The galleries are filled with people of all ages, all eager to see the works of Picasso, Klee, Matisse, and Giacometti. As I make my way through the crowds, I can't help but feel a sense of drama and anticipation.
As I turn a corner, I am confronted by the first of Picasso's works. Female nude (study for 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon') is a powerful and evocative painting, and it immediately draws me in with its bold, geometric shapes and expressive lines. I stand before it for a moment, taking in the sheer magnitude of the work.
On my journey through the exhibition, I am struck by the diversity of the works on display. Klee's abstract, playful paintings are a stark contrast to Giacometti's haunting, elongated sculptures. And yet, despite their differences, all of the works seem to be connected by a common thread of innovation and experimentation.
The autumn season is always a time of contemplation and introspection, and as I wander through the galleries, I find myself reflecting on the themes and ideas that are present in the works on display. What is the role of the artist in society? How does art reflect and shape our understanding of the world? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind as I observe the paintings, sculptures, and drawings around me.
In the exhibition, the works of Picasso, Klee, Matisse, and Giacometti all seem to communicate with each other across time and space. Despite the fact that these artists lived and worked in different eras and in different parts of the world, their works are all connected by a common spirit of innovation and experimentation. It is as if they are all part of the same conversation, each offering their own unique perspective and contributing to the ongoing evolution of art. This idea of an ongoing dialogue between artists and their works resonates with the concept of Dasein, or being-in-the-world, as explored by philosopher Martin Heidegger. According to Heidegger, art is not just a representation of the world, but is also an active participant in the shaping of our understanding and experience of it.
Walking through the galleries, I am struck by the way that each work of art seems to be engaged in a kind of dialogue with the world around it. The paintings, sculptures, and drawings are not just objects to be viewed and admired, but are also living, breathing entities that are capable of changing and shaping the world around them. This idea is exemplified in Minotauromachy, an important precursor to Picasso’s famous 1937 'Guernica' (not presented in this exhibition), which was created in response to the bombing of the Spanish town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War. The painting is a powerful and poignant commentary on the horrors of war and the suffering of civilians, and it remains a powerful and relevant work to this day.
One work that particularly stands out to me is Matisse's 'Sylphide'. The painting is a rare and delicate work, with its soft, pastel colors and flowing, graceful lines. As I stand before it, the way it captures the beauty and grace of the female form is especially noteworthy. However, as I try to take a photo of the painting, I am politely but firmly told by a lady staff member that photography is not allowed in this part of the exhibition. This moment serves as a reminder of the inherent contradiction between raison d'état, or the interests and needs of the state, and raison d'être, or the essence or purpose of being. While the museum is tasked with the preservation and protection of these works of art, they are also meant to be shared and experienced by the public.
A 1932 Picasso painting titled "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" sold for a record $106.5 million at a Christie's auction in New York, surpassing the previous record of $104,327,006 paid for Alberto Giacometti's "L'Homme Qui Marche I" in 2010. Picasso's esteemed reputation as a pioneer of modern art has only continued to thrive in the present day, with 34 exhibitions featuring his work having taken place in countries all over the globe in the past year alone. From Paris to Barcelona, Antibes, and Málaga, museums dedicated to the artist's work can be found in various locations, while companies in France and beyond hold licenses to sell Picasso-branded products such as carpets, handbags, and pillows. The Picasso Administration, responsible for managing the artist's estate and licensing agreements, generates significant income from the Droit de Suite royalty on gallery and auction sales of works by artists who have been deceased for less than 70 years, as well as from the use of Picasso's name and signature on various products. The Administration also faces the ongoing challenge of unauthorized use of Picasso's name and likeness on a range of products, and must carefully negotiate the reproduction of his work in films and other media. Despite these challenges, the Picasso Administration remains devoted to safeguarding and promoting the artist's enduring legacy, cementing its place as a leading force in the art world. However, as the calendar flips over to a new year of 2019, art aficionados will be pleased to learn that a selection of esteemed Picasso works will enter the public domain in the United States. This exciting development means that these artworks, including "Boy Leading a Horse," "Guitar," "Glass, Guitar, and Bottle," "Saltimbanque Seated with Arms Crossed," "Bust of Female Nude," and "Mother and Child," will be completely free for re-use and publication. This marks the first time in twenty years that such a significant number of works will be released from copyright restrictions, offering endless possibilities for their interpretation and dissemination. As these iconic pieces take their place in the public domain, it will be interesting to see how they are embraced and repurposed in the contemporary art world.
I recommend that art enthusiasts and fans of Picasso make sure to visit the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo from October 8, 2022 to January 22, 2023 for the exhibition "Picasso and His Time: Masterpieces from Museum Berggruen / Nationalgalerie Berlin". This exhibit will showcase a selection of masterpieces from the collections of the Museum Berggruen and the Nationalgalerie Berlin, and will offer a unique opportunity to explore the art and influence of Pablo Picasso and his contemporaries.