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Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change

February 21 – May 9, 2016

About the Exhibition

The Barnes Foundation, in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, premieres Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change on February 21. On view at the Barnes through May 9, this exhibition examines the dramatic fluctuations in Picasso’s style during the period surrounding the First World War, from 1912 to 1924. The show brings together some 50 works by the artist from major American and European museums and private collections—including paintings, drawings, watercolors, and costumes designed for the avant-garde ballet Parade—and several pieces by his friends and contemporaries.

Unlike other members of the Parisian vanguard, Picasso never directly addressed World War I as a subject in his art. Instead, he began experimenting with naturalistic representation, turning out classical figure drawings that outraged many of his progressive 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. The exhibition looks closely at the strange ambivalence characterizing Picasso’s wartime production, exploring it in connection with changes to his personal life, with his misgivings about cubism, and with the political meanings ascribed to cubism during the war.

The exhibition is curated by Simonetta Fraquelli, an independent curator and specialist in early-20th-century European art. The managing curator at the Barnes is Martha Lucy.


Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change was sponsored by:

The contributing sponsor was:

Additional support was provided by the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund and the Robert Lehman Foundation.

The exhibition was made possible by the generosity of individual contributors to the Barnes Foundation Exhibition Fund.

This exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.