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Monday, December 16, 6 – 8pm


Picasso’s Composition: The Peasants on the west wall of Room 1, Philadelphia © The Barnes Foundation

About the Series

Our exciting new series, Looking and Listening, explores the historical and theoretical relationship between visual art and music. Join us in the Barnes galleries, where Albert Barnes often used music in his teachings. Surrounded by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, and Cézanne, we will listen to various recordings—from Stravinsky and Ravel to African American spirituals—and discuss how perception changes when the visual and aural intersect. While some sessions will be rooted in history, focused on the stylistic conventions of a particular era, others will be more loosely conceived, with time devoted to pure sensory exploration.

About the Session

Picasso and the Art of Composing

For the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition, held in 1912 at the Grafton Galleries in London, curator Roger Fry gave Pablo Picasso’s mammoth 1906 painting of figures and oxen a new title: Composition. In the exhibition catalogue, he described Picasso’s recent works—including cubist canvases from 1910 to 1912—as “visual music.” In this session, we’ll look closely at the painting we now refer to as Composition: The Peasants ​as we discuss the layered notion of “composition” in both painting and music, and in the relationship between these sister arts. How does this picture relate to Picasso’s cubist production, and in what sense might it be understood as a kind of visual music? To complement our visual experience, we will consider how dissonance, fragmentation, and motion are expressed in the sounds of Schoenberg, Satie, Catalan folk music, and more.

Capacity: 60

Barnes classes will:

  • Sharpen your observational and critical thinking skills.
  • Improve your ability to communicate about art.
  • Deepen your appreciation for cultures and histories outside your own.

See all classes.


Alison Boyd

Boyd is director of research and interpretation at the Barnes. She studies the intersection of multiple modernisms in American and European art in the first half of the 20th century, with a focus on the arts of the African diaspora and the politics of museum display. She taught art history at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and has held research positions as a postdoctoral associate at the Phillips Collection’s Center for Art and Knowledge, a Terra Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and as a postdoctoral fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence.

Naina Saligram

Saligram is a fellow researching the 46 works by Picasso in the Barnes. She has held curatorial, research, and teaching positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Art Gallery and has previously taught Barnes classes on subjects including primitivism and surrealism.

Recent Barnes Class Testimonials

“Naina Saligram is the professor everyone hopes to have. She is knowledgeable and open to listening to her students.” The Classical Tradition in Modern Art with Naina Saligram

“I learned so much in this class, especially things I would not have considered or did not learn when taking art history classes in college.” Portraiture at the Barnes: From the 15th Century to Modernism with Laura Watts

“Kaelin is an amazing professor and has so much knowledge about the collection and the Barnes Foundation. She makes the content interesting and encourages your ideas and questions.” The Traditions of Art with Kaelin Jewell

“I love Cézanne’s art. I am a neuroscientist and always use Cézanne as an example of an artist when I teach vision and the art of seeing. This class helped me appreciate Cézanne’s work even more [and] was very engaging.” Close-Looking Immersion: Cézanne’s Ginger Jar with William Perthes

“The instructor was amazing! She was extremely knowledgeable, friendly, funny, and open to questions. She brought in outside resources and made herself available via email for questions between classes. I would take anything she teaches.” The Impressionists: Friends and Family with Caterina Pierre