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Picasso: the Great War, Experimentation, and Change MARCH 2016

Exploring the fluctuating style of a great artist

 The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, is currently playing host to Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation, and Change. This show brings together some fifty works from major American and European collections – paintings, drawings, and watercolours sit alongside the splendid costumes and sets that Picasso designed for the avant-garde ballet Parade. In an unforgettable blend of art and history, the costumes are presented on mannequins alongside a colour film of the ballet itself – the strangeness and magnificence of the dance infuses every inch of the atmosphere and the viewer is transported back to the world Picasso helped bring to life. 

The Great War, Experimentation, and Change focuses on Picasso’s oeuvre between 1912 and 1924. These years were full of innovation and transformation; the First World War’s frenzy and bloodshed rocked the cultural establishment to its roots, and the interwar period was a time of experimentation as new social orders started to grow from the ashes of tumbledown governments. And, at the heart of it all, was Pablo Picasso. He constantly challenged assumptions, redefining himself and his art in a gorgeous whirlwind of paint and drama. His style oscillated between the different modes, between Cubism and classicism, shattering convention and building it up again. In his own words, he would never repeat ‘the same vision, the same technique, the same formula.’ 

Scala’s fully illustrated catalogue follows the fascinating twists and turns in Picasso’s style. It includes works by his peers and friends in Paris, artists such as Modigliani, Rivera and Braque who were also exploring the challenging themes of a stormy two decades, providing an excellent guide to anyone interested in the history of a remarkable artist. There are thought-provoking essays by Simonetta Fraquelli, Kenneth E. Silver, Elizabeth Cowling, and Dominique H. Vasseur, and catalogue notes by Ann Bremner.  

The exhibition is at the Barnes Foundation from February 21 to May 9, and then travels to the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, where it will appear from June 10 to September 11.