Pablo Picasso: Painted Ceramics and Works on Paper, 1931-71
March 12, 2015 – January 10, 2016
Pablo Picasso: Painted Ceramics and Works on Paper, 1931 – 71
One of the most prolific and significant artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) produced approximately 50,000 works in a variety of mediums; ceramics, drawings, paintings, prints, rugs, sculptures and tapestries. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is fortunate to own a significant number of his aquatints, ceramics, etchings and linocuts, gifts of various generous donors over the years.
This exhibition includes 72 objects of which 14 are etchings dating 1931-33 from Picasso’s famous Vollard Suite (1931-37). It was commissioned by art dealer Ambroise Vollard in exchange for paintings by Paul Cézanne and Pierre-August Renoir. These early works from the Suite were inspired in part by Picasso’s involvement with a monumental sculpture commission. They feature the artist (a nude bearded sculptor) at work and relaxing in his studio, his nude model and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who was then Picasso’s mistress, scenes of pleasure and frolic, some of which include acrobats, bulls, or horses. These elegant, expressive images reveal Picasso’s artistic and emotional universe of the early 1930s.
Several aquatints and etchings from the Museum’s collection are also in the exhibition, along with linocuts on loan to the Museum from collectors Drs. Mildred and Walter Padow. These and other works on paper are juxtaposed with more than 50 ceramic bowls, pitchers, and plates that Picasso made and painted while living in the South of France. These date from 1947-71, and their imagery explores many of the themes of Picasso’s earlier work, such as animals, acrobats, bacchanals, bullfights, fauns and other mythological figures, and owls (Picasso had a pet owl). Given to the Museum by Miami Beach hotelier Bernie Bercuson in 1991, these ceramics reveal Picasso’s ability to be as innovative in the medium of clay as he had been in all of the others that he addressed. His innovations in ceramics spearheaded subsequent advances in the medium that elevated its status from craft to art.
Picasso began working with clay in 1946 after visiting the famous annual pottery exhibition in Vallauris, France, where he was impressed by works from the Madoura ceramic workshop, owned by Suzanne and Georges Ramié. This town and the area in general had supported the production of clay since Roman times. In exchange for access to the resources of the Madoura workshop, Picasso allowed the Ramiés to produce and sell editions of his work, and the ceramics in the exhibition are among them. Picasso loved the flexibility of clay and the firing process. As he painted forms on workshop produced clay objects and those he designed and created, he brought inanimate objects to life with expressive vitality and humor. Picasso’s innovative work in clay spearheaded subsequent advances in the medium that led to its current recognition as a form of art rather than a craft.
While in Madoura, Picasso met Jacqueline Roque, who became his second wife in 1961, and the exhibition includes a plate on which Picasso painted her face in profile. The two went often to the annual pottery exhibitions in Vallauris as well as bullfights there, and 7 of the linocuts that Picasso designed that were printed as posters for these events are also on view.
Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp are regarded as the three artists who most defined the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting, sculpture, printmaking and ceramics.
The exhibition is sponsored in part by Rolls Royce Motor Cars, Berger Singerman, and Eugene and Paula Stevens.
Curator: Barbara Buhler Lynes, Sunny Kaufman Senior Curator, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale
Image credit: Spanish Pitcher, 1954. White earthenware clay. Collection NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. Gift of Bernie Bercuson. Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.