Picasso's Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition
October 4, 2011, through January 8, 2012
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) was one of the world's greatest draftsmen. This exhibition focuses on drawings made during the first three decades of his seventy-five-year career. Born in Málaga in southern Spain, Picasso was the son of a provincial artist and drawing instructor who encouraged his talents from an early age. By sixteen, he had mastered the conventions of classical draftsmanship through rigorous study in Spanish
academies and sheer hard work.
Picasso's early decades in Paris, where he moved permanently in 1904, coincided with a burgeoning modern movement. While he responded to the innovations of such artists as Ingres, Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Gauguin, he also had access to works on paper by Old Masters in large-scale museum installations and exhibitions — a relatively new phenomenon — and through new and improved means of reproduction, providing him with the finest examples of the tradition in which he was trained and sought to renew.
The sixty works in this exhibition include virtuoso portrait drawings, early and late cubist works, and powerful sculptural images in pastel. They trace the development of the artist from his childhood and student works, early encounters with modern art in Barcelona and Paris, creative interactions with ancient Iberian and tribal art, radical innovations of cubism and papiers collés (pasted papers), and a return to classicism after World War I. The array of works in pen, pencil, brush and ink, watercolor, gouache, pastel, and chalk gathered together here captures the freshness of Picasso's discoveries of the many Western and non-Western sources that nurtured his imagination and enabled him to claim a place in the grand tradition of drawing as one of its most extraordinarily accomplished practitioners.
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.