Milan, inaugurated Building Third Floor with an exhibition dedicated to Picasso

In Milan, the Building space expands and presents the new Building Third Floor. And opens with an exhibition on Picasso on the 50th anniversary of his death.

In Milan, the Building gallery expands and presents Building Terzo Piano, a nuvo spazio that stems from the desire to explore creativity in all its facets, through unprecedented ways not yet experienced in Building and Buildingbox.

From April 14 to May 27, 2023, Building Terzo Piano opens with the exhibition Picasso. Un tableau me vient de loin. 15 drawings from 1905 to 1970, curated by Paolo Rusconi, with the collaboration of Antonello Negri and Veronica Bassini. “Un tableau me vient de loin” [“A tableau me vient de loin”] declares Picasso to Christian Zervos in a conversation published in 1935 in “Cahiers d’Art” and then in the catalog of the famous exhibition Picasso: Forty Years of his Art curated by Alfred H. Barr Jr. and held at MoMA New York in 1939. It is an extremely evocative and at times enigmatic text that re-proposes the artist’s dowsing instinct in search of his creative core while revealing that genetic and open-ended aspect - in continuous development - of his work.

The drawing represents the seismograph of this original tension: it is the spontaneous recording of the idea, the first externalization of artistic expression; the drawing is the starting point, a gateway to understanding the genesis of the work. Picasso’s daily graphic apprenticeship is, therefore, the visualization of a slow or fast process from one image to another as a necessity of communication.

The quantitative data of the graphic materials produced by Picasso re-propose his extraordinary vitality, and the graphic works gathered in the small and valuable collection presented here lead us back to this perspective of immediacy and maximum expressive power. A path that here covers, in 15 passages, almost the entire biography of the Spanish painter (1881-1973).

From the first drawing of 1905, Saltimbanque et jeune fille, which is inscribed in the orbit of the Pink Period and specifically the studies for the production of the painting Famille de saltimbanques (1905), to the large cartoon reproducing fishermen at work (1957) and which will be later engraved with the béton soufflé technique by the sculptor Carl Nesjar, a collaborator and friend to whom the frontispiece Tete d’homme (1965), exhibited here, is in fact dedicated. All the way to a musketeer’s head from 1969 that connects to a moment of return to the great masters of his youthful training: Rembrant, Goya, Velázquez, rediscovered and revisited in the last years of the artist’s life. Or again, to the small marker-drawn cardboard Nu couché au collier / Deux têtes (1970), dedicated to the musician Norman Granz, with whom Picasso had a close friendship, evidenced also by Granz’s choice to name one of his music labels "Pablo Records."

Thus, a diary of images unfolds in the exhibition, tracing the creativity and biography of the Malaga painter, his artistic power, and his daily dedication. “Je suis le cahier”: “I am my drawings,” he writes in notebook No. 40.

Pablo Ruiz was born in Malaga in 1881 to Maria Picasso and José Ruiz Blasco. His father, a drawing teacher and curator of the Malaga Museum, was the first to push young Pablo toward the visual arts. In 1891 the Ruiz-Picasso family moved to La Coruña, and Pablo from 1895 lived between Madrid and Barcelona, where he frequented the tavern "Els Quatre Gats," a meeting place for the Spanish avant-garde. In 1900 he decided to adopt his mother’s surname and began his sojourns in Paris, where he met the poet Max Jacob and the merchant Ambroise Vollard.

Picasso’s early painting phase reflects his difficult living conditions: the stroke is influenced by the dark realism of Zurbaràn and early Velàzquez, and the subjects tell of the suffering of poor and destitute environments. After encountering the work of Van Gogh, Lautrec, and Steinlen, Picasso produced a series of works with dark tones: this is the so-called blue period.

In 1904 he moved permanently to Paris to the Bateau-Lavoir atelier. The studies Picasso conducts on the circus and its inhabitants (acrobats, harlequins, clowns, equilibrists) ferry the fin-de-siècle despair of the blue period to new images, shifting the palette, always tending toward monochrome, toward the pink period. His fortunes as an artist also change: he meets Gertrude and Leo Stein, the Russian collector Shukin, Guillaume Apollinaire, André Salmon.

This phase was followed by a period of reflection on the painting of Cézanne to which were added suggestions of Gósol ’s Iberian art and visits to the ethnographic collections of the Trocadéro in Paris. In this temperament, in 1907 was born, Les demoiselles d’Avignon, the chef-d’œuvre of early twentieth-century art, “a laboratory, a battlefield of processes and experiments”(Alfred H. Barr Jr. 1939). Later, the closeness with painter George Braque, the participation of poet Guillaume Apollinaire and the support of dealer Daniel H. Kahnweiler, marked the maturation of the new Cubist language. The first season, monochrome and analytical, is succeeded by the transition to synthetic cubism with which the artist tends toward the reconstruction of the object.

During World War I Picasso remained in Paris; in 1916 he met Jean Cocteau, who proposed that he design sets and costumes for the ballet Parade with music by Erik Satie. Picasso produced a series of drawings in the style of Ingres, renewing his interest in the natural lines of the human body, a return to the figure also enlivened by his travels between Rome and Florence. The experience of Cubist decomposition coexists with the Neoclassical period. In 1932 Christian Zervos publishes the catalog raisonné volume of the works, while Picasso approaches the circles of Surrealism.

Returning to Spain for a short time, he left the country at the dawn of the Civil War, and when he was commissioned by the government to create a work representing the Second Spanish Republic at the 1937 Universal Exhibition in Paris he denounced the horrors of war with the enormous canvas Guernica. By this time Picasso’s fame was established, in 1939 MOMA organized the major exhibition Picasso: Forty Years of his Art consecrating his art overseas.

During World War II Picasso remains in France; in November 1944, after the Liberation of Paris, the Salon d’Automne dedicates a retrospective to him. After the war he explored different techniques: from lithography deepened in Fernand Murlot’s atelier, to ceramic production, which he started in 1947 in the small town of Vallauris. In that same period, together with the printer Arnéra, he also devoted himself to linoleum engraving, a favorite technique for the creation of promotional posters for the French town and for the artist’s personal exhibitions. In 1953 the important retrospectives in Rome and Milan were organized: Guernica, preserved overseas, was exhibited, thanks to the mediation of Attilio Rossi, in the Sala delle Cariatidi of the Palazzo Reale. A period of intense productivity and isolation began. In 1968 he exhibited Suite 347 at the Louis Leiris Gallery in Paris: 347 etchings touching on all the recurring themes in Picasso’s work, mixing different etching techniques and styles. Given the chronological height in which it is produced, the series fits into the context of revision and reinterpretation of the great masters of the formation, in a moment of reflection in which visions of the past and present are interwoven in an almost testamentary activity. In April 1973 he died at the Notre-Dame-de-Vie farm in Mougins, his last place of residence.

For all information, you can visit Building’s official website.

Image: Pablo Picasso, Pêcheurs (1957; brown and black pastel on ivory cardboard, 505 x 935 mm)

Milan, inaugurated Building Third Floor with an exhibition dedicated to Picasso
Milan, inaugurated Building Third Floor with an exhibition dedicated to Picasso

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