From October 1st to February 23rd, 2020, the temporary exhibition “Picasso. Magic Paintings” is the first exclusively dedicated to this period (1926 – 1930) and its impact on the artist’s work.
After visiting it, I present it to you and give you my impressions.
A great admirer of Pablo Picasso’s work, as much as of the private mansion in which the museum dedicated to the artist is located, I found this temporary exhibition grandiose. The period presented, unknown to the general public, is that between the summer of 1926 and the end of 1930. Meanwhile, the Spanish artist is inaugurating a new cycle of works that includes about 150 paintings. All of them present a new research, and the beginning of a new artistic form, the one that will lead to the power of Guernica (1937). Because yes, this set of paintings has similar plastic and thematic characteristics to those first identified by the critic Christian Zervos in 1938, which he then described as “Picasso’s Magic Paintings”.
During the visit of this exhibition, it is mainly heads, bodies and figures composed of planes and lines that are illustrated which, taking a step back, metamorphose into strange monumental volumes. From this strange new universe, Zervos sees in Picasso a magician capable of inventing new forms, likely to influence the thought of the person watching them.
Indeed, all the works presented deserve several minutes of stop for a thorough study. The more time you take to understand them, looking for the different parts of the body and face, the more your imagination will be released to help you discover a “magical” world. At the bottom of some of the works, instructions for children will also be useful for older children. They allow everyone to develop their sense of observation, and to make it easier for you to understand each painting.
By the number of works he has produced, but also by his insatiable search for new expressions, it is easy to understand why Picasso occupies the place of one of the greatest painters in the world. Thanks to this retrospective of the artist’s period, we discover the process of metamorphosis and recreation that allowed him to develop his art and lead to Guernica’s creation. With the help of sinuous lines creating double profiles, the modification and inversion of anatomical features, and the displacement of facial and body features, he transforms our reality until it is reinvented.
For example, with the many figures or “heads” whose representation is significantly disturbing. It reduces facial features to signs, representing hair by lines, toothed mouths, eyes appear on the cheekbones while the nose is on the top, and the contour of the head takes on an irregular geometric shape. Far from being arbitrary, this new provision gives these heads all their emotional power: some scream their anguish while others refer to the codes of African and oceanic art.
Nose, mouths, eyes are all elements that come back to the representations of faces. Similarly, the parts of the body have shapes that come back to Picasso’s paintings. The strength of this temporary exhibition is to show us how, little by little, the artist developed an alphabet on his canvases that he combined to form words and sentences. He speaks to us not only through the emotion emanating from his paintings, but also through these ideograms used such as hieroglyphics.
To go even further, in his exploration of this new movement, Picasso brings relief to some of his works, which then become new letters.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, African and oceanic works have been in vogue in artistic circles. Picasso himself has an important collection and enriches it all the more during the four years (1926 – 1930) concerning his period of magic paintings. From the sight of some of the paintings of this period, we can understand that they were a source of inspiration for the Spanish artist who nourished his imagination.
I have personally been overwhelmed by some of the paintings. They allow us to understand further upstream the meaning of Guernica, and the art of Picasso in the 1920s and 1930s. In addition, these works are exhibited in a meaningful journey that gradually familiarizes us with this singular, new, magical art. Putting ourselves in the context of the time, we understand that all these colours, all these shapes, all these features, all these lines and metaphors were revolutionary.
With this temporary exhibition, we also understand why he is considered one of the greatest artists. He always tried to paint like a child, because for him it was the only way to paint emotions, to represent them in a raw way, with all the innocence and honesty of a child. Picasso’s strength comes out in what we feel when we see his works. It is all our child’s soul that returns for the hour spent in this magnificent museum and this splendid temporary exhibition.
|Where||5 rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris|
|Access||Mtro 1 Saint-Paul|
Metro 8 Saint-Sébastien-Froissart
Metro 8 Chemin Vert
|Opening hours||Every day except Mondays, December 25, January 1 and May 1.|
Tuesday to Friday: 10:30 am - 6 pm
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays (except Mondays): 9:30 am - 6 pm.
During school holidays the Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 6 pm.
Last access at 5:15 pm
|Entry fees||Full rate : 14 €|
Half rate : 11 €