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Home » Go See – New York: “Picasso and Marie-Therese: L’amour Fou” at Gagosian Gallery through June 25th, 2011

Go See – New York: “Picasso and Marie-Therese: L’amour Fou” at Gagosian Gallery through June 25th, 2011

May 18th, 2011


Marie-Thérèse avec une guirlande (1937) by Pablo Picasso, via Gagosian Gallery

Currently on view at Gagosian Gallery in New York is Picasso and Marie-Thérèse: L’amour fou, an exhibition which reveals the paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures inspired by Marie-Thérèse Walter, one of the most inspiring models of Picasso’s life. The exhibition is a love story of the artist and his muse told through art and is curated by the renowned Picasso biographer, John Richardson in collaboration with Marie-Thérèse’s granddaughter, art historian Diana Widmaier Picasso. It spans the years from 1927 to 1940 and includes several works which have never before been exhibited in the United States.

Following the success of Picasso: Mosqueteros in New York in 2009 and Picasso: The Mediterranean Years in London in 2010, the exhibit presents the next chapter in a continuous exploration of Picasso’s fundamental themes.

More text and images after the jump…



Installation view of Picasso and Marie-Therese at Gagosian Gallery, via Gagosian Gallery

Picasso met the young and unassuming Marie-Thérèse in 1927 on a street in Paris. She was 17 years old and he was 45. The girl was unfamiliar with Picasso’s name and so he brought her to a bookshop to show her a monograph of one of his paintings and asked to see her again. She accepted and soon began a secret love affair with the artist. Her youthful glow and statuesque body soon proved to be a primary inspiration for some of Picasso’s most exceptional aesthetic breakthroughs. Submissive and willing to cater to the artist’s needs, she once said of herself, ““I always cried with Picasso. I bowed my head in front of him.”


Installation view of Picasso and Marie-Therese at Gagosian Gallery, via Gagosian Gallery

Guitare à la main blanche (1927) is the earliest work in the exhibition. Portrays his new lover with her recognizable strong face and blond hair. In subsequent depictions, Picasso would manipulate Marie-Therese’s robust form to transform it into continuously new aesthetic proportions as she inspired some of his most exceptional work and even led him to a return to sculpture in the 1930′s.  She was his muse for his renowned Metamorphosis II, a maquette for a monument to the  poet Guillaume Apollinaire, one of the best friends the artist ever had. Her body also inspired some of what are considered the artist’s greatest paintings, including Nude Standing by the Sea, a work lent to the exhibit by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Installation view of Picasso and Marie-Therese at Gagosian Gallery, via Gagosian Gallery

Despite her frequent portrayal, the identity of Marie-Therese was kept secret even from Picasso’s closest friends.  Even after their daughter Maya was born in 1935, Picasso continued to divide his professional life from his secret family life, hiding her from his intensely jealous wife Olga.  He would spend the weekends with Marie-Therese and Maya and write her love letters when they were apart.


Installation view of Picasso and Marie-Therese at Gagosian Gallery, via Gagosian Gallery

More than eighty works have been amassed here depicting Marie-Therese in various forms from Picasso’s artistic vocabulary. She inspired the artist to imbue his work with color,  decoration, solidity, sensitivity, and sensuality.


Installation view of Picasso and Marie-Therese at Gagosian Gallery, via Gagosian Gallery

At the exit of the show is an excerpt from one of the love letters Picasso wrote to his mistress in 1936, in which did not refer to her by her name but interlocked the M and the T of her initials to create a monogram. ”I see you before me my lovely landscape MT,” Picasso wrote, “and never tire of looking at you, stretched out on your back in the sand, my dear MT I love you. MT my devouring rising sun. You are always on me, MT mother of sparkling perfumes pungent with star jasmines. I love you more than the taste of your mouth, more than your look, more than your hands, more than your whole body, more and more and more and more than all my love for you will ever be able to love and I sign Picasso.”


Installation view of Picasso and Marie-Therese at Gagosian Gallery, via Gagosian Gallery

L’Amour Fou, the title of the exhibit refers to the madness of love. Picasso supported Marie-Therese financially but never married her. In 1977, she committed suicide just a few years after Picasso’s death. The exhibition shows a visual obsession- a never-ending love letter to his muse.


Installation view of Picasso and Marie-Therese at Gagosian Gallery, via Gagosian Gallery


Installation view of Picasso and Marie-Therese at Gagosian Gallery, via Gagosian Gallery

-R.A. Proctor

Related Links:

Exhibition Page [Gagosian Gallery]
Gagosian Gallery in New York Presents Picasso and Marie-Therese: L’amour fou [Artdaily]
The Rutting Bull [Nymag]
Picasso’s Greatest Muse [The Daily beast]
Picasso’s Teenage Lover Inspired Phallic Noses, ‘Terrible’ Sex [Bloomberg]
Picasso in Love [Art in America]
Picasso’s Erotic Code [Vanity Fair]
Picasso and Marie-Therese: A New Exhibition Puts the Painter’s Secret Affair on Display [Vogue]
Picasso’s Labor of Love [WSJ]
Raw Like Chelsea: A Big Tent, Gentrified but Not Gentle [NYTimes]

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