Picasso Exhibit, Richmond, April 2011

Mom and I saw the Picasso exhibit at the Virginia Museum for my birthday.

Posted: Jul 7, 2011 04:10 pm

Mom asked what I wanted for my birthday, and I said, “I want to see the Picasso exhibit at the Virginia Museum.” A once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a big Picasso exhibit locally ought not be missed, and so Mom and I went on April 26.

It was impressive, massive, mind-bending and mind-expanding, but I would never call it beautiful, or aesthetically pleasing, like I said of the Impressionist exhibit at the same museum a few years ago. There is no doubt Picasso was a skilled artist and could produce traditionally beautiful works if he wanted to, but he didn’t. Instead he invented a dozen new art styles and introduced new ways of representing (although there were many “abstract” pieces, none were non-representational.) I saw much more truth than beauty.

To give but one example: I am sure that Dora Maar was a beautiful woman, of whom beautiful portraits could be made, but I will forever think of her with a jaundiced yellow head perched atop badly tailored, geometric clothes, on a bent chair; a woman with pointy fingers who was in serious need of a comb, makeup, and a good plastic surgeon.

About two weeks after our visit to the museum, I sketched four quick drawings to capture some of what I learned at the Picasso exhibit. Heads bent upside down, giant fingers and toes, a line running from top to bottom, “Picasso’s nose” extending seamlessly into his forehead, a flattened collage look; these are some of what struck me, that I tried to use in the sketches below.

Slideshow from my Flickr account:

So, don’t misunderstand me, the Picasso Exhibit at the Virginia Museum was a very heady, brainy, and valuable experience. I just didn’t see much I would call beautiful.

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