Picasso's Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition
October 4, 2011, through January 8, 2012
Drawing in Fontainebleau and Paris, 1921
The summer months that Picasso spent in Fontainebleau in 1921 represented a period of enormous creativity for the artist, with the practice of drawing assuming a principal role. He focused on subjects with classical connotations, including a series of women in antique robes who are shown gathering at the Napoleon Fountain in the park of the palace. Picasso's choice of certain materials, including pastels, pencil, and charcoal, also reflects his response to the drawings that he was able to study in an exhibition at the château of works by members of the sixteenth-century "School of Fontainebleau." For his own compositions, he worked on different formats and experimented with classical notions of scale and monumentality.
Photographs of the Fontainebleau studio reveal that, in addition to several big paintings, Picasso did a number of large-format drawings of women's heads, including Head of a Woman (cat. 70 and the catalogue cover at right). Although these heads, which were done either in gouache or pastel, generally make reference in form to ancient sculpture and in color to Pompeian wall painting, the women portrayed also bear some resemblance to the artist's wife Olga.
On his return to Paris at the end of September, Picasso embarked on a related series of drawings of women gathered at an urban fountain. For the different variations, some of which were done on large sheets of paper, Picasso chose delicate pastels, gouache, charcoal, and pencil (cats. 71, 72, 74). These monumental women, who sometimes wear flowered hats and veils and are dressed in contemporary attire, are thus transformed into modern-day sisters of the classicizing women at the Fontainebleau fountain done just weeks earlier.
Major funding for the presentation in New York is provided by Bill and Donna Acquavella, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the late Melvin R. Seiden.
Additional support is generously provided by Walter and Vera Eberstadt, Agnes Gund, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the Thaw Charitable Trust, Mr. and Mrs. Julio Mario Santo Domingo, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The exhibition is also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The accompanying catalogue has been underwritten by the Center for Spain in America and The Christian Humann Foundation.