Pablo and his Predecessors

The National Gallery in London has scored a big one. A exhibit generating such buzz it’s even found its way across the Atlantic, onto the pages of a New York art model’s little WordPress blog 🙂 It’s called “Picasso Challenging the Past”, and it runs through June 7. In it, the great modernist takes on his forbears, his esteemed predecessors with whom he had an ambivalent, almost love/hate relationship.

In this noteworthy show, Picasso takes no prisoners. Everyone from Rembrandt to Goya to El Greco to Delacroix are tackled in Picasso’s “challenges”, whether they be respectful flattering tributes, new artistic interpretations, or, in some cases, arrogant Picasso mockery.

As I sit here at home still recovering from the flu, I’ve been engrossed in the many reviews of this compelling show. Rather than try to paraphrase everything for you guys, I thought I’d just provide some links to the articles. They are fantastic reading for all art lovers.

Martin Gayford, chief art critic for Bloomberg News, wrote this review. His opening paragraph alone is brilliant, in which he writes:

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was a pugnacious little man, and many of his rivals weren’t living artists but the great dead. “That bastard,” he said of Delacroix (1798-1863), “he’s really good!”

ArtDaily provides a thorough description of the exhibit with some good commentary:

Seizing on the signature themes, techniques and artistic concerns of painters such as Velázquez, Rembrandt and Cézanne, Picasso transformed the art of the past into ‘something else entirely’, creating audacious paintings of his own. Sometimes his ‘quotations’ from the past were direct, at other times more allusive and, occasionally, full of parody and irreverence.

And Rachel Campbell-Johnston provides a short video tour of the exhibit, along with a juicy written review in TimesOnline. Check out this quote:

This show hits you straight in the face like the force of an explosion. Here is a talent as savagely destructive as it is creative, as ruthlessly mocking as it is admiring, as vulgarly garish as it is susceptible.
It is this ferociously competitive talent that is explored in a landmark show that brings a brash Modernist into the National Gallery’s hallowed halls of high culture.

That last line addresses the issue of the always entertaining “museum wars” that frequently stir up the art world. London’s National Gallery is a conservative, traditional institution and rarely, if ever, features modernist shows. So with this bold curatorial move, the National Gallery has likely provoked some agitation and/or jealousy from the Tate Modern with this one! (On a personal note, I LOVED the Tate Modern when I was in London. One of my favorite places).

Hope you all enjoy perusing these art reviews. I just wish I could actually SEE the show 😥 I’ll have to do it vicariously via the Web, while I try to kick this damn flu. Begone little pest!

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