Pablo Picasso’s prolonged engagement with paper is the subject of the groundbreaking exhibition Picasso and Paper, organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in collaboration with the Musée national Picasso-Paris.
Featuring nearly 300 works spanning the artist’s entire career, Picasso on Paper offers new insights into Picasso’s creative spirit and working methods. Nowhere is Picasso’s protean spirit more evident than in his relentless exploration of working on and with paper. He drew incessantly, using many different media—including watercolor, pastel, and gouache—on a broad range of papers. He assembled collages of cut-and-pasted papers; created sculptures from pieces of torn and burnt paper; produced both documentary photographs and manipulated photographs on paper; and spent decades investigating an array of printmaking techniques on paper supports.
Among the exhibition highlights are Femmes à leur toilette (1937–38, Musée national Picasso-Paris), an extraordinary collage (14 1/2 feet wide) of cut-and-pasted papers; outstanding Cubist papiers collés; sketchbooks from the artist’s early to late years, including studies for Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; and constructed paper guitars from the Cubist and Surrealist periods. Visitors will also discover collaborative photograms made with Dora Maar and André Villers, illustrated books, and drawings on a vast range of materials, including newspaper, envelopes, antique laid papers, and personal ephemera.
Presented in a series of chronologically unfolding themes, the works are displayed together with closely related paintings and sculptures to provide a deeper context for understanding their meaning and historical position in Picasso’s art. For example, Picasso’s preparatory studies for his Blue Period masterpiece, La Vie (Life) of 1903 (Cleveland Museum of Art), are presented together with the painting and other works exploring corresponding themes of poverty, despair, and social alienation. In the Cubist section, Picasso’s drawings for Head of a Woman (Fernande) of 1909 (Musée national Picasso-Paris) are joined by the associated bronze sculpture. Newly restored drawings made with colored, felt-tip pens on newsprint for the film Le Mystère Picasso are shown together with the film.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Image: Women at Their Toilette, Paris, winter 1937–38. Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973). Collage of cut-out wallpapers with gouache on paper pasted on canvas; 299 x 448 cm. Musée national Picasso-Paris, Pablo Picasso gift in lieu, 1979, MP176. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Adrien Didierjean. © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York