Published: February 12, 2016
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — The Barnes Foundation, in partnership with the Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Art, 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 World War I, 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 avant-garde, 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 avant-garde 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 more than 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 Twentieth Century European art. The managing curator at the Barnes is Martha Lucy. The exhibition will travel to the Columbus Museum of Art in June.
The Barnes Foundation is at 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For information, www.barnesfoundation.org or 215-278-7162.
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