Reading a museum catalog for a Picasso exhibit “Picasso from the Musee Picasso, Paris’ shown in 1980 at Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis, the city where I live. I missed the exhibit by a full 16 years but glad I can enjoy the catalog and someday the originals in museums around the world. In an insightful article by the late Dominique Bozo, founding curator of the Musee Picasso, titled ‘The Picasso Legacy’ he gives insights into the exhibit from a historical perspective. I am fascinated by artistic process and a few ideas that Bozo introduces us to about Picasso’s work and process, resonated for me. Three themes emerged.
Picasso’s prolific production
‘I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.’ ~Pablo Picasso
‘Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.’ ~Pablo Picasso
The 1980 exhibit was comprehensive and included ‘all media: painting, sculpture, drawing, notebooks, prints and ceramics.’ It is estimated that Picasso created 13,500 paintings. 100,000 graphic prints or engravings, 34,000 book illustrations, 300 sculptures and ceramics in his lifetime. Through substantive production, Picasso was constantly exploring, experimenting with meaning and pushing the boundaries of art. The quotes above throw light on potentially why he was so prolific – always experimenting, and desiring to leave nothing undone.
Picasso’s engagement with process
This involves not only the process of art making but also the process of experimentation with materials and techniques. ‘But Picasso, well known for his prodigious grasp of form, was one of the first to turn his back on established processes. For him, theme and variation has almost equal value. He revised traditional techniques not by erasing, but retaining successive stages of a composition, thereby giving equal importance to all moments of creation.’
Picasso’s collection of art and objects
Picasso collected everything including his own works. ‘Picasso it is said never threw anything away. This was true of objects given to him, things that he found and those he invented; it was true of anything that inspired him, or that he could manipulate and transform.’ One can see how being surrounded by a plethora of these objects must’ve have fueled Picasso’s imagination and art making.
These are lessons for my own artistic work: produce prolifically, explore and revise techniques and process, and collect (wisely) to inspire imagination and art making!
Picasso, from the Picasso from the Musée Picasso, Paris: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 10 February Through 30 March 1980, Pablo Picasso, Dominique Bozo
Dominique Bozo, 58, Expert on Picasso, Is Dead, John Russell http://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/29/obituaries/dominique-bozo-58-expert-on-picasso-is-dead.html
Picasso: From The Musee Picasso To The Walker Art Center, Video