Art review: Becoming Picasso: Paris, 1901
Exhibition run: 14 February – 27 May 2013
The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
The Courtauld Gallery – map
Review by: Alexa Williamson
Viewing date: 4 April 2013
Rating: ***** (out of 5)
Pablo Picasso was a master artist. People love him because whether he decides to do a more realistic painting or something extremely simple, cubist, abstract or just “wild” he does it passionately and uniquely – and most of the time in a way that is beautiful and breathtaking. It also helped that he lived in a time of much artistic creation and movement in Europe and elsewhere.
Pablo Picasso moved to Paris in 1901 and was painting up to 3 paintings per day for his art exhibition at Ambroise Vollard‘s gallery that year and to make money. Becoming Picasso: Paris, 1901 covers paintings done only in the year 1901. And, because of the volume with which he produced them this year, there were many paintings the curators of this exhibition could choose from.
Becoming Picasso: Paris, 1901 is fairly small but an exhibition where you learn a lot about Picasso, the time period he lived in, his influences and the people he knew. On the top floor of The Courtauld Gallery, lodged behind a cascade of Degas and other turn-of-the-century European paintings, you are in for a delight as you view and learn about some of his most famous works in the two rooms that exhibit these works, again, interestingly, only from 1901. In Room 1, you can find beautiful Impressionist/Fauvist pieces such as French Can-Can and Spanish Dancer and in Room 2 there are two self-portraits of Picasso, a large and a small mirror of that, entitled Self-Portrait (Yo, Picasso) [also signed on the canvas, “Yo/Picasso”] and Self-portrait (Yo)[ signed just “Picasso”]. Room 2 is the larger of the two rooms and also houses Blue Period paintings The Blue Room (The Tub), Child with a Dove, Seated Harlequin, and Harlequin and Companion, as well as two of Picasso’s tributes to his friend Carles Casagemas who committed suicide, these are Casagemas in his Coffin and Evocation (Burial of Casagemas).
Picasso lived in an amazing time and was part of this but also influenced by artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, El Greco, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, plus older Spanish court painters such as Diego Velazquez and Francisco de Goya.
The well-written information for the exhibition not only details Picasso’s work, ambitions, goals and inspirations of this time, but also highlights which artists he was influenced by in 1901 (that is obvious in some pieces) and gives a good history in plain English of each piece.
This exhibition is enthralling and beautiful, overall, and the colours and styles are amazing. It is much fun and wonderful to learn so much with such a small selection of works. Highly recommended!