I’ve never been a die-hard Pablo fan. It probably sprouts from a late afternoon drag-of-a-sweaty trip around his house museum in Barcelona, when I was young, disinterested, and frankly confused by it all. (My parents still quote that, and the visit we took to the Musée d’Orsay, which came even earlier in my childhood, as a tale of amusing dramatic irony from my life). That and, (I have only myself to blame for this), the disturbing, uncomfortable and unsettling impression I’ve often felt from what I perceived as inconsistency in his work. For example, Andrew Wyeth’s life-long commitment to the Helga Pictures steadily, solidly, and unquestionable, always seemed admirable to me. Picasso, I’ve imagined as a fidgety child, and a fickle adult. How unreasonable and ignorantly callow, to dictate that an artist who lived as long as Picasso did, should, or even could, remain challenged, inspired and motivated by the same style, influences and subjects; unchanged throughout his life.
What I realised viewing totalling 200 prints, is the pure frantic speed of his creativity. What I just outlined as a weakness: that Picasso exhibitions are visually loud, incohesive, chaotic, discordant and disorganised, is because you never can see just one Picasso at a show; which is in fact the testament to his greatness. His imagination, ideas and style seem to develop so rapidly that it can be identified within one piece. His work is constantly futuristic – forward facing…forward running.
In places and at times, you could also think of Picasso as being too easily swayed. His work is, as a single piece or in a body, always highly referential and a broad-ranging culmination of influences. Yet despite this, he appears so influence-less, in that his persona is utterly unique, independent, fresh, bold, and as it was…modern.
As I pointed out in my article Italian Renaissance Drawings…, if drawing be the father of all the other arts, and Picasso be the master of prints, then by viewing a collection of prints from the core of his career is perhaps the greatest insight into the decisions of direction and development he made in his paintings and sculptures. For a man who’s work is as varied as the entirety of the History of Art, to reach beyond insight to understanding of all his achievements, is a complex but rewarding task. And so, like this was for me, with every exhibition of his work, you can expect to learn of something new.
Pablo Picasso: Celebrating the Muse – Women in Picasso’s Prints 1905-1968 is only available today and tomorrow (until 2 July,) at the Marlborough Fine Art, Albermarle Street.http://www.marlboroughfineart.com/exhibition-Pablo-Picasso-Celebrating-the-Muse---Women-in-Picasso's-Prints-256276.html