Saturday, May 16, 2009
Picasso in Chelsea
I went to see the Picasso show now up at the Gagosian Gallery. Wow. What a treat.
The show was curated by John Richardson, the Picasso biographer and Vanity Fair writer, and it features 50 paintings and 49 prints from the last decade of Picasso's life, from 1962 to 1972; Picasso died at 91 in 1973. So this is the work of an artist in his eighties. You might think that paintings by an artist towards the end of his life would be dark and gloomy and morose as he contemplated the great unknown but this work is the opposite of that. I personally am not a huge fan of all of Picasso's paintings; some of them are a little pointy and sharp and almost violent for me, but these paintings are colorful and round and full of great joy. I really was astonished.
The show is called Mosqueteros, or Musketeers, because it includes paintings of matadors and circus performers and entertaining characters like that.
The colors are light and bright -- pale green, yellow, beige, not tones that I associate with Picasso. Thick brush strokes celebrate the glorious qualities of paint.
There is a happy sense of playfulness. Here is a woman teasing a cat. The cat looks like it was rendered in about eight brush strokes -- quick, light, fun.
Femme Nue Couchee Jouant avec un Chat
There also is a short movie to watch of Picasso in his studio. He is wearing a yellow v-neck sweater, red pants and a brown and white scarf at the neck. (I had a yellow v-neck sweater like that once from Brooks Brothers -- it was a gift from my friend Abby. I wonder if they still make them.) You get the sense with the paintings and the movie that the artist is really enjoying himself and revelling in his mastery. Picasso was creating these pleasures up until he died; what a great way to go out. This show is at Gagosian until June 6th, and it's on 21st Street so don't go the 24th Street Gagosian Gallery like I did. And of course its free. Only a few of the works are for sale so this show is a labor of love for the gallerist. Thank you Larry Gagosian!