Tate Modern presents an exhibition entitled Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy which is a unique opportunity to view some of Picasso’s important works created in just one year. This is the first ever solo Pablo Picasso exhibition at Tate Modern and features more than 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings. The exhibition takes visitors on a month-by-month journey through 1932 to explore some of the reasons why it was so pivotal in Picasso’s life and work.
Picasso had turned fifty in late 1931 and had become one of the most famous living artists in the world. However, many critics believed his best years were behind him and Picasso was increasingly restless with his work and his personal relationships. He bought an 18th century mansion in Normandy where he experimented with sculpture and began to consider a new range of works. In late 1931, Picasso completed a small painting called Woman with Dagger which portrayed a woman killing her sexual rival. The strained marital relationship with his wife and his secret affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter would be one of the themes that dominated his work in 1932.
In February 1932, one of Picasso’s paintings was sold for 56,000 francs in Paris and the artist had started an ambitious range of portraits which included a female figure reading, sleeping and listening to music. A number of these paintings in the exhibition like Reading 1932, The Dream 1932 and Woman in Red Armchair illustrate that Picasso was experimenting with his style which often veered between surreal and abstract.
The next room shows some of the sculptures that Picasso began to produce at Boisgeloup, his Chateau in Normandy.
The Early March room features three works featuring the artist’s lover Marie-Thérèse Walter which have not been shown together since 1932, Made over the course of only five days Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, Nude in a Black Armchair and The Mirror are part of a burst of creative energy with a new sense of colour and sensuality.
The Late March to May sees Picasso revert back to Surrealism with an Octopus motif influenced by French filmmaker Jean Painleve.
The room entitled Fame reflects some of the work that was on display at his exhibition at the Galeries Georges Petit in June 1932. In contrast to the work, he was producing at that time, the exhibition was mainly a retrospective of his early work where his portraits of his wife and son featured prominently.
The July and August room illustrates that Picasso returned back to the style that he was developing before the retrospective with Reclining Nudes and Nude Woman in a Red Armchair.
After the riot of colour in the exhibition, the Black on White room provides a different appeal with a series of drawings and sketches. The September and October room includes a series of drawings based on the Crucifixion that Picasso completed after he had visited Zurich for his first major museum exhibition.
The work in the final room entitled November and December indicated that the early optimism of the year had changed into something darker with a series of paintings about water, drowning and rescue. These are likely to be in response to the concern for Marie-Thérèse who became seriously ill after swimming in the river Marne.
This fascinating exhibition provides an opportunity to explore the work of Picasso from just one year, 1932. This was not just an ordinary year for the artist, in many ways it can be seen as a mid-life crisis in both his artistic and personal life. Picasso’s response was to throw himself into his work and he produced a remarkable range of work that is often considered some of his best. In many ways it was a year in which he developed a style that defined his work for many years afterwards.
Video Review available here
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern website here
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