AO On Site – London: ‘Picasso and Modern British Art’ at Tate Britain through July 15, 2012

April 14th, 2012

Curator Chris Stephens. All photos on site for Art Observed by Caroline Claisse.

Currently on view at Tate Britain through July fifteenth, Picasso & Modern British Art sets up a large-scale juxtaposition between Pablo Picasso’s legendary oeuvre and its influence and impact on British art of the twentieth century. The exhibition positions over 60 Picassos in dialogue with nearly 100 works by such  luminaries as Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney—in the Tate’s words “seven of Picasso’s most brilliant British admirers.”

Pablo Picasso, The Source (1921), left; Henry Moore, Reclining Figure (1936), right

Picasso & Modern British Art is the first exhibition that specifically focuses on Picasso’s reception in Britain, both critically and artistically, as well as an international celebrity. The exhibition is presented chronologically, showcasing Picasso masterpieces such as Weeping Woman (1937) and The Three Dancers (1925). Picasso’s paintings are considered in the context of British collections, traced from the pre-World War I debut of Cubism, with Head of a Man (1912), included in Roger Fry’s groundbreaking exhibitions. Other important works are on loan to the Tate from museums and collections around the world.

Pablo Picasso, Nude Woman in a Red Armchair (1932)

Picasso himself received a mixed reception in Britain. The artist went to London in 1919, to design scenery and costumes and Diaghilev’s The Three Cornered Hat. Equally significantly, his masterpiece Guernica (1937) toured the country in 1938–1939. Picasso’s reputation suffered in Britain after World War II, after a 1945–46 exhibition at the V & A provoked debates about the meaning of Modern Art. A later survey at the Tate in 1960 was more successful, though the institution had not acquired its first Picasso until the 1930s.

Pablo Picasso, The Three Dancers (1925)

As presented at Tate Britain, the array of artistic responses to Picasso’s work goes beyond simple notions of influence, instead showing how each of the seven British artists have held a surprisingly sustained, often challenging engagement with the Modernist Master.
The exhibition will tour to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh this summer. It is accompanied by a major new catalogue edited by curators James Beechey and Chris Stephens.

Pablo Picasso, Woman in Green (1909-10), left; Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (also known as Bust Nude with Sculptor’s Turntable) (1932), right

Pablo Picasso, right to left: Women of Algiers (Version O) Paris (1955); The Enamel Saucepan (1945); Woman Dressing her Hair (1940)

Pablo Picasso, Reading at a Table (1934), left; Seated Woman in a Chemise (1923), right

Pablo Picasso, Girl in a Chemise (1905)

Pablo Picasso, Composition with a Blue Cigarette Packet (1921)

Pablo Picasso, Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle (1914)

Pablo Picasso, A Child with a Dove (1901)

Henry Moore, Three Points (1939-40)

Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944)

David Hockney, Christopher Without His Glasses On (1984)

David Hockney, Paint Trolley LA (1985)

David Hockney, Harlequin (1980) Pablo Picasso, The Three Dancers (1925)

Graham Sutherland, Thorn Head (1940), left; Crucifixion (1946), right

Pablo Picasso, Blue Roofs Paris (1901), left; The Race Course at Auteuil (1901), right

—K. Shahi

Related Links:

Exhibition Site [Tate Britain]
Picasso and Modern British Art – review [The Guardian]
Picasso and Modern British Art, Tate Britain, review [Telegraph]
Picasso and Modern British Art, Tate Britain, London, Mondrian//Nicholson: In Parallel, Courtauld Gallery, London [Independent]