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A Huge Exhibition Showcasing Works by Picasso and His Peers Is Coming to the NGV This Winter

World-premiering in Melbourne, 'The Picasso Century' will feature more than 70 works by the Spanish artist, as well as 100-plus others from over 50 of his contemporaries.
By Sarah Ward
March 04, 2022
By Sarah Ward
March 04, 2022

If you're Melbourne's NGV International and you've spent the summer filling your walls and halls with fashion by Coco Chanel, how do you follow up come winter? By dedicating your next blockbuster exhibition to Pablo Picasso and the artists, poets and intellectuals he crossed paths with. The iconic Spanish painter, sculptor and printmaker's pieces will sit alongside works by everyone from  Salvador Dalí and  Henri Matisse to Marie Laurencin and Gertrude Stein at The Picasso Century, which'll take over the St Kilda Road gallery from Friday, June 10.

A world-premiere showcase developed exclusively for the NGV by the Centre Pompidou and the Musée national Picasso-Paris, and displaying until Sunday, October 9, The Picasso Century won't skimp on its namesake. From Picasso alone, more than 70 works will be on display. But it'll also surround his pieces with over 100 others from more than 50 of his contemporaries, with the latter sourced from French national collections and the NGV Collection.

Pablo Picasso. Spanish 1881–1973. Reclining woman (Femme couchée). 19 June 1932, oil on canvas, 38.0 x 46.0 cm, 55.6 x 63.0 cm (framed). Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d'art moderne - Centre de création industrielle. Donated by Louise and Michel Leiris, 1984. © Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency, 2022 Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM - CCI/Bertrand Prévost/Dist. RMN - GP.

That means that art lovers will be able to gaze at 170-plus works of art, and chart Picasso's career via his paintings, sculptures, drawings and ceramics in the process — and also see how it developed through his engagement with his peers. And, when it comes to other talents showcased, the hefty list also covers Guillaume Apollinaire, Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti, Françoise Gilot, Valentine Hugo, Dora Maar, André Masson and Dorothea Tanning.

By placing the artist's pieces in context with the works of others around him, The Picasso Century examines the connections that helped make him who he was, and explores how his creations rippled throughout the world. Accordingly, art by Natalia Goncharova, Julio González, Wifredo Lam, Suzanne Valadon and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva will also feature, all talents who've rarely been exhibited in Australia. And, other artists included span André Breton, Georges Bataille, Aimé Césaire and Alberto Giacometti, as well as Kay Sage, Max Ernst and Giorgio de Chirico — plus Francis Bacon and Willem de Kooning as well.

Salvador Dalí. Spanish 1904–89. Invisible sleeping woman, horse, lion (Dormeuse, cheval, lion invisibles). 1930, oil on canvas, 50.2 x 65.2 cm, 74.3 x 89.2 cm (framed). Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d'art moderne – Centre de création industrielle. Gift of the Association Bourdon, 1993 © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala - Salvador Dali/VEGAP. Copyright Agency, 2022. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM - CCI/Philippe Migeat/Dist. RMN - G.

Didier Ottinger, a scholar of 20th century painting and Deputy Director of the Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, has curated the exhibition, which obviously steps through Picasso's distinct artistic periods: his blue period, cubism and surrealism, for instance. In total, The Picasso Century will explore 15 thematic sections that chart the course of Picasso's seven-decade-plus career. If you're fond of his surrealist period, however, it'll be particularly packed with works from then.

As Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, explains, "this exhibition offers visitors an extraordinary insight into the development of
modern art and the preeminent figure at its centre, Pablo Picasso. Through more than 170 works of art — including many that have never been seen in Australia — audiences will come to appreciate the many ways in which Picasso influenced — and was influenced by — the artistic community that surrounded him."

If it sounds big, that's because it is. And, as French Impressionism was in 2021, The Picasso Century is part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series.

The Picasso Century will be on display from Friday, June 10–Sunday, October 9, 2022 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. For more information or to buy tickets, head to the NGV website.

Top image: Pablo Picasso. Spanish 1881–1973. Figures by the sea (Figures au bord de la mer). 12 January 1931, oil on canvas, 130.0 x 195.0 cm. Musée national Picasso - Paris. Donated in lieu of tax, 1979. © Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency, 2022. Photo © RMN - Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso - Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.

Published on March 04, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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