The Barnes Foundation Premieres Major New Picasso Exhibition in Philadelphia

The Barnes Foundation Premieres Major New Picasso Exhibition in Philadelphia

February 18, 2016
By Kristina Jenkins

Undoubtedly, the name Pablo Picasso rings a bell with even the novice fine-art aficionado. One of the great masters of the 20th century, Picasso pushed the boundaries of modern art as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and designer, even as a poet and playwright.

Art lovers from around the world visit the Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to take in its awe-inspiring collection of works by Picasso—22 paintings, 23 works on paper and a tapestry—within a renowned permanent collection that also features 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes and 59 Matisses, along with works by Manet, Degas, Seurat, Prendergrast, Titian and so much more.

This spring, though, visitors to the Barnes Foundation can also experience a curated view of a lesser-known period by the iconic artist.

Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change explores Pablo Picasso’s work between 1912 and 1924, highlighting the tumultuous years of the First World War when the artist began to alternate between cubist and classical modes in his art.

Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Rivera and More
An astounding display of nearly 50 works by Picasso and more than 45 works by his contemporaries will be on view in the Barnes special exhibition galleries throughout the spring, with artworks hailing from collections the world over, including from the Picasso museums in Barcelona, Málaga and Paris, as well as from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Curated by independent curator Simonetta Fraquelli, a specialist in early 20th-century European art, and organized via a partnership between the Barnes Foundation and the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, the exhibition draws on collections from some 30 sources in all to present a snapshot of Picasso’s work towards the end of his cubist period as he began employing naturalistic styles—doubtlessly in response to the wartime climate that saw cubism as unpatriotic and associated with the German enemy.

Shocking his friends and contemporaries, Picasso’s painting during the World War I era embraced both cubism and neoclassicism, often juxtaposing these two artistic styles. The Barnes exhibit takes visitors through the era, beginning with cubist highlights, exploring the transitional war years and ending with the post-war period, wherein Picasso began to produce works depicting hefty, often-distoried figures—yet another evolution of style.

The show includes a huge range of mediums—from oil paintings, watercolors and drawings to video, photography and even costumes and curtain designs, which Picasso developed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1917.

More than a dozen other important canvases by Picasso’s contemporaries—including Henri Matisse, Diego Rivera, Georges Braque and Amedeo Modigliani—are also presented, as is a compelling candid photography series by Jean Cocteau, a lifelong friend of Picasso.

The special exhibition serves as an amazing complement to the Barnes’s permanent Picasso collection, which largely covers other periods by the artist, and offers museumgoers the rare chance to take in a comprehensive view of Picasso’s canon—all under one roof.

Tickets and Programming
Tickets for Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change are already available for purchase online. The exhibition is free for members, of course, and exhibition tickets combined with access to the Barnes collection are $29 for adults, $27 for seniors and $15 for youth/students.

For those who are looking to check out the exhibition only, walk-up tickets are available on-site for $14.

Throughout the run of the exhibit, the Barnes presents a wealth of accompanying programming, including lectures, workshops and a (now sold out) opening soiree on Saturday, February 20.

Interested in delving deeper into Picasso at the Barnes? Score a spot on one of either (or both!) daily tours offered during the exhibition—one exploring just the special exhibition and the other including both the special exhibition and permanent collection.

The Barnes’s collection of post-impressionist and early modern paintings is worth the trip alone, but with a special exhibition on view, visitation is practically mandatory.

Make plans now to see Picasso at the Barnes this spring.