Friday, January 22, 2016
Those who know Picasso's brutish and misogynistic reputation must wonder about today's headline. Let Ciwt explain:
Minus the predicted East Coast blizzard, today Ciwt would be at MoMA at the Picasso Sculpture show, and she'd like to add to her comments on the show even without attending. (Speaking of Ego).
But first she'd like to give a shout out to Virgin Airlines who gave her a waiver on flight cancellation fees. Just one more on the Virgin chart.
Now on to comments on the show not seen.
First, let Ciwt say she has seen some of the best Picasso sculptures in the show, including:
And several others. All thought and heart provoking - and often quite amusing.
Which leads to her second comment: The show exhibits over 140 sculptures and Ciwt can't help wondering whether the truly stirring works are swallowed up in the crowd of smaller, (repetitive?, lesser?) works. She assumes so, actually; she has seen this (uncritical) over abundance with other artists in past shows over the years.
And, speaking of crowds, even though Ciwt's MoMA membership allows her to enter the show an hour early, there is still a goodly number of members at that hour. Then when the timed/non-member admissions begin, the true blockbuster nature of the exhibit takes over. In these conditions it is virtually impossible to find and read signage or see much much less commune with the art.
So, maybe it is just sour grapes because Ciwt wasn't able to get back for the show(unless she takes a brief, wild, last-minute trip), but Ciwt is thinking she's lucky to have studied Picasso's paintings, drawings and prints so extensively in college and seen so much of his work in the past. To her, Picasso wasn't (and didn't aspire to be) as talented a sculptor as he was a painter, draftsman and printmaker - so missing this show is a disappointment but not the end of the world. On the other hand, the show sounds like an absolute Must See for those beginning to educate their art eyes and What an amazing opportunity to feast them on one of the world's greatest artists being creative, playful, whimsical, and witty.
1. She-Goat, 1950 (cast 1952), bronze
2. Bull, ca. 1958, Cannes, plywood, tree branch
3. Bull's Head, 1942, bicycle seat and handlebars
4. Man with Lamb, 1942, bronze
Pablo Picasso, Woman and Child, 1962, sheetmetal and painting
Before going back East to attend MoMA's Picasso Sculpture exhibition I will be bold to say I believe sculpture was where Picasso went to rejoin those creative child energies he held so dear.
So I will head to the MoMA Picasso Sculpture Show this week and I want to be on record before viewing it that I see his sculptures more as (amusing) pass times, doodles, or ways for him to work out spacial relationships in preparation for a painting. *
I also think Picasso's primary means of expression - the media he most valued - were canvas and paper. Ie, painting and drawing. A few of his sculptural pieces I have seen are clearly more important than others and were likely completed for public consumption or display. ** To me, even these do not carry the expressive visceral energy of the paintings and drawings. ***
BUT I haven't seen that many Picasso sculptures in person nor studied in depth the level of Picasso's devotion and relationship to sculpture, so it will be interesting to see if (how, probably) this ambitious, sweeping, 'once-in-a-lifetime' survey expands my understanding and appreciation.
*Woman in the Garden, Paris, 1929-30, welded and painted iron
**The Goat, 1950, Palm lead, iron and plaster
***Goat Skull, Bottle and Candle, 1954, oil on canvas
So now that I've gotten back to the Asian Art's Looking East show for a more thorough viewing, what did have I concluded? Well, it's a very high quality show, broad-based from fine art to clothing, furniture, photography, the decorative arts. The signage is thorough and informative and the crowds it is attracting would be the envy of most museums.
What's missing for me is impossible to include. It's the shock of the new. Once upon a time, in about 1849 in Paris, virtually no one had laid eyes on anything Japanese. The operable aesthetic was that of Louis XIV as it had wended its way through rococo, neo-classicism. It was F-r-e-n-c-h; if you wanted to be chic, in the know, you collected French, hung it on your walls, dressed in it, ate off it and sat in it. And if you weren't chic, not adhering to the current French mot, well, au revoir to you.
Into this aesthetic stranglehold, slowly began to appear Japanese images: shockingly colorful prints with unheard of proportions and use of lines. Shortly after the woodblocks came silk tapestries and kimonos with non-heraldic designs like butterflies, cranes, fans and lotus flowers. Then on other boats began arriving dinnerware, desk and table top accessories, screens. It was all so Decorative and the rage was on!! People of all classes were wild for the Japanisme; wearing it and collecting it became what status-conscious Parisians simply had to do. The effects were suddenly everywhere from the new more fully realized and sensual view of women (more sexy in their kimonos), to the use of posters for promotion (the beginning of advertising as we know it) , and certainly in painting which was already being transformed (into Impressionism) by new information about the science of light.
*Perhaps because the show is tackles such a large and complex topic and includes so many excellent examples of Japanese and French art, I found myself most drawn to this print, one of the simplest images in the show.