Published: April 15, 2016
LONDON — The National Portrait Gallery will stage the major exhibition of portraits by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) in 20 years at the gallery this fall.
“Picasso Portraits” will be on view October 6–February 5 in association with the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, including over 75 portraits by the artist in all media, ranging from well-known masterpieces to works that have never been shown in Britain before.
The latter include the fine cubist portrait from 1910 of the German art dealer and early champion of Picasso’s work, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, loaned by the Art Institute of Chicago; and from a private collection a choice portrait executed in 1938 of Nusch Eluard, acrobat, artist and wife of the Surrealist poet Paul Eluard.
All phases of the artist’s career will be represented, from the realist portraits of his boyhood to the more gestural canvases of his old age. It is the first large-scale exhibition devoted to his portraiture since Picasso and Portraiture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Grand Palais, Paris in 1996.
Because Picasso did not work to commission and depicted people in his intimate circle, he enjoyed much freedom as a portraitist and worked in different modes as well as many different styles. Formal posed portraits coexisted with witty caricatures, classic drawings from life with expressive paintings created from memory reflecting his understanding of the sitter’s identity and character.
The exhibition will include a group of revealing self-portraits as well as portraits and caricatures of Picasso’s friends, lovers, wives and children. Guillaume Apollinaire, Carles Casagemas, Santiago Rusiñol, Jaume Sabartés, Jean Cocteau, Igor Stravinsky, Fernande Olivier, Olga Picasso, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Picasso are among the people visitors will encounter. Complementing these images of Picasso’s intimates are portraits and caricatures inspired by artists of the past – Velázquez and Rembrandt among them – with whom he identified most closely.
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says “‘We are delighted to stage Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, a collaboration with Museu Picasso, Barcelona, which focuses on the artist’s reinvention of time-honoured conventions of portraiture, and his genius for caricature. The exhibition gathers together major loans from public and private collections that demonstrate the breadth of Picasso’s oeuvre and the extraordinary range of styles he employed across all media and from all periods of his career.”
The gallery is at St. Martin’s Place. For more information, www.npg.org.uk or 020 7312 2463.
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