February 21–May 9, 2016
Press preview: Tuesday, February 16
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Philadelphia PA, August 31, 2015 – The Barnes Foundation, in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, presents Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change. On view February 21 through May 9, 2016, at the Barnes, the exhibition will travel to the Columbus Museum of Art in June. Curated by Simonetta Fraquelli, an independent curator and specialist in early 20th-century European art, the exhibition examines the dramatic fluctuations in Picasso’s style during the period surrounding the First World War, from 1912 to 1924.
Inspired by the Columbus Museum’s Still Life with Compote and Glass (1914–1915) by Picasso and the Barnes’s extensive Picasso holdings, Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change features some 50 works by Picasso drawn from major American and European museums and private collections. The show includes oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and four costumes the artist designed for an avant-garde ballet, Parade, in 1917. The show also features several pieces by Picasso’s contemporaries, including Georges Braque and Henri Matisse.
Unlike other members of the Parisian avant-garde, Picasso never directly addressed the First World War as a subject in his art. Instead, he began experimenting with naturalistic representation, turning out classical figure drawings that outraged many of his avant-garde colleagues—this was quite a shift from the radical cubist approach he had been developing since 1907. Picasso did not give up cubism, however. Instead, he shuttled back and forth between two different styles for over a decade, breaking forms apart and making them whole again. This exhibition looks closely at the strange ambivalence that characterized Picasso's wartime production, exploring it in connection with changes to his personal life and with the political meanings ascribed to cubism during the war.
“A radical shift occurred in Picasso’s work in 1914,” notes curator Simonetta Fraquelli. “Following seven years of refining the visual language of cubism, he began to introduce elements of naturalism to his work.” This change in his production can be viewed against the backdrop of an unsteady cultural climate in Paris during the First World War. Many people identified the fragmented forms of cubism with the German enemy and therefore perceived it as unpatriotic. This negative impression reverberated throughout Paris during the First World War and may have been a factor in Picasso’s shift in styles. However, Fraquelli says, “what becomes evident when looking at Picasso’s work between 1914 and 1924, is that his two artistic styles—cubism and neoclassicism—are not antithetical; on the contrary, each informs the other, to the degree that the metamorphosis from one style to the other is so natural for the artist that occasionally they occur in the same works of art.”
Major works from the Picasso museums in Barcelona and Paris will be included in the exhibition, including Seated Woman (1920).
The exhibition also features four costumes that Picasso designed for the avant-garde ballet, Parade, which premiered in Paris in 1917: the original Chinese Conjurer costume and reproductions of the American Manager, French Manager, and Horse costumes. Performed by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, with music by Erik Satie, story by Jean Cocteau, and the choreography of Léonide Massine, Parade was the first cross-disciplinary collaboration of its kind. The ballet, which tells the story of an itinerant circus group performing a sideshow, was viewed as a revolutionary approach to theater. Picasso was the first avant-garde artist involved in such a production—not only designing the costumes, but also the theater curtain and set. A watercolor and graphite sketch of the curtain design and a pencil sketch of the Chinese Conjurer costume are included in the exhibition. Picasso drew inspiration for his designs from the modern world—everything from circuses and carousels to music halls and the cinema. With Picasso’s inventive geometric costumes and naturalistic curtain design, Parade may be the ultimate fusion of cubist and classical forms.
Picasso’s juxtaposition of figurative and cubist techniques can be seen as an expression of artistic freedom during a time of great conflict, and his shifts in style became a means of not repeating, in his words, “the same vision, the same technique, the same formula.” The works by Picasso’s contemporaries, such as Diego Rivera’s Still Life with Bread Knife from 1915 and Matisse’s Lorette in a Red Jacket from 1917, offer further insight into the shifting cultural climate in France during this transformative period.
Managing curator for Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change at the Barnes Foundation is Martha Lucy. Managing curator at the Columbus Museum of Art is David Stark.
Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change is sponsored by
The contributing sponsor is
Additional support is provided by the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund and the Robert Lehman Foundation.
The exhibition is made possible by the generosity of individual contributors to the Barnes Foundation Exhibition Fund.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Tickets for Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change are now available for purchase. This exhibition is free for members. General admission tickets with exhibition and Barnes collection access are $29, senior tickets are $27, youth/student tickets are $15, and children (ages 5 and under) receive free admission. Exhibition-only tickets are $14 and may only be purchased on site.
About the Curator and Managing Curators
Simonetta Fraquelli is an independent curator and specialist in early 20th-century European art who has curated modern master exhibitions for institutions such as Royal Academy of Arts, London; National Gallery, London; and the Kunsthaus Zürich. Fraquelli has published numerous essays on Picasso, including "Picasso’s Retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit, Paris 1932: A Response to Matisse" on the occasion of the 2010–2011 Kunsthaus Zurich exhibition, Picasso, His First Museum Exhibition 1932; and "Looking at the Past to Defy the Present, Picasso’s Painting 1946–1973" for the 2009 exhibition Picasso Challenging the Past at the National Gallery, London. Fraquelli resides in Italy, and collaborates with museums in Europe and America.
Martha Lucy is deputy director for education & public programs and curator at the Barnes Foundation. Most recently, Lucy curated the Barnes Foundation’s exhibition, Mark Dion, Judy Pfaff, Fred Wilson: The Order of Things, which was on view May 16–August 3, 2015. Lucy lives and works in Philadelphia.
David Stark, chief curator at the Columbus Museum of Art, has been a director in the department of museum education at the Art Institute of Chicago and served as curator of education at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. His essays on 19th-century Belgian painting have appeared in European and American books and journals. He has taught art history and visual culture at Columbia College Chicago and the University of Minnesota, Morris. He received his PhD in the history of art from Ohio State University.
Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Scala Arts Publishers, Inc. It includes essays by exhibition curator Simonetta Fraquelli ("Double Play: Cubism and Neoclassicism in Picasso’s Art, 1914–24"); Picasso scholar Elizabeth Cowling ("Picasso and Pattern, 1914–17"); Kenneth E. Silver, professor of modern art in the department of art history at New York University ("Picasso and Cocteau in Wartime: A Tricolored Alliance"); and Dominique H. Vasseur, former chief curator at the Columbus Museum of Art ("Ferdinand Howald in Paris and Picasso’s Peers during the Great War"). There will also be extensive entries on the works in the exhibition, written by Ann Bremner.
About the Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation (barnesfoundation.org) was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings, with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Giorgio de Chirico; American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin and Maurice Prendergast; old master paintings; important examples of African sculpture; Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles; American paintings and decorative arts; and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. While most collections are grouped by chronology, style, or genre, art at the Barnes is arranged in ensembles structured according to light, line, color, and space—principles that Barnes called "the universal language of art.” The Barnes Foundation’s programs, including First Fridays, young professionals nights, tours, tastings, and family programs, as well as the courses and workshops in the Barnes-de Mazia Education Program, engage diverse audiences. These programs, held at the Philadelphia campus, online, and in Philadelphia communities, advance the Foundation’s mission through progressive, experimental, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The Barnes Foundation is open Wednesday–Monday, 10 am–5 pm, and 6 pm–9 pm every First Friday and select Friday evenings. Tickets can easily be purchased on site, online, or by calling 215.278.7200. For tips and assistance planning your visit, please visit our website.
The Barnes Arboretum, at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,500 varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and expanded under the direction of Laura L. Barnes, the collection includes 40 state champion trees, a Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include lilacs, peonies, stewartias, ferns, medicinal plants, hostas, and magnolias. The Horticulture Education program at the arboretum has offered a comprehensive three-year certificate course in the botanical sciences, horticulture, garden aesthetics, and design since its establishment in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes. Horticulture workshops and lectures are also offered regularly. The arboretum is open Friday–Sunday, 10 am–4 pm, from May 1–November 1. Tickets can easily be purchased on site, online, or by calling 215.278.7200.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications