Unknown Picasso exhibit

Picasso's Goat, one of the photograms on exhibition.

Picasso’s Goat, one of the photograms on exhibition.

On October 30, I visited the Unknown Picasso exhibit at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and heard a lecture on the artwork from Dr. Diane Chalmers Johnson, the curator of the exhibit. Dr. Johnson talked about how she organized the work, her difficulties with the collection, and the overall story the art portrayed. Dr. Johnson shared stories of how Picasso would give paper cut outs to his friend André Villers, who then added his own photographs to make a unique picture. Later, when Picasso’s friend, an acclaimed French poet, Jacques Prévert saw these pictures he was inspired to write a play in poetic French telling a story using the pictures as the basis for the characters.

I discovered during the discussion that the job of curator is complex and difficult. Their responsibilities go beyond choosing which pieces to exhibit and where to place them. The biggest surprise was that a curator adds an artistic touch, making sense of a complicated collection like the Unknown Picassos. The fact that she had to translate poetic French as well as attempting to understand the process that led to creating these college prints involved an in-depth, hands-on approach was enlightening.

My favorite piece from the collection was the one of Picasso and his wife in a wedding portrait.  This one is interesting because not only are the two side by side, but he was able to create the textures that he used in rendering the veil and the rest of the couples’ wedding clothes. I found it intriguing that the immense joy of the couple could be shown through very simple paper cut outs. Over all, the combination of Picassos’s cut outs with Viller’s photography created an intriguing story. The addition of Prévert’s dialogue showed depth that I never would have imagined existed in this fun and whimsical collection.

However, the curator emphasized there was a hidden agenda besides whimsical art.  She explained that there where many underlining references to social and economic issues going on at the time.   For example, the creation of the atomic bomb was an important theme throughout the collection.  These subtleties are the reason people love art.  Everyone creates their own idea of what the art is about and then when you combine this with the author’s story you get a truly unique experience.  This collection not only pleased my senses, but also challenged my imagination.


This entry was posted in Connections, Gallery / Museum. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
Skip to toolbar