Picasso in Vegas Pt 1

Most people travel to Vegas to gamble, party and generally misbehave. However, for the purposes of art, I went to see a few works by PP as well as doing the proverbial! And here it is, in the lovely Bellagio Hotel.

There are two parts to this post because, not only did I visit an exhibition of previously unseen works, I also grabbed a bite to eat at the fine dining experience in Picasso’s at the Belaggio where there are 11-yes, 11 Picasso paintings and ceramic works on display.

PART ONE: Picasso, Creatures and Creativity

This exhibition explores Picasso’s thought processes as he worked in different media -painting an printmaking and follows his favourite theme of the human body. The 43 pieces consisted of 19 lithographs, 13 linocuts, 8 paintings and 3 rare plates.

“It is not sufficient to know an artist’s works-it is also necessary to know when he did them, why, how and under what circumstances”

Picasso’s focus on his current muse drives this exhibition as all of the main women in his life are represented here and all of the works are fully dated so we know exactly what was happening at the time.

The first painting you come across is one that has not been seen before, with the snappy title of ‘Left profile of a woman with a blue hat’. This painting is of Dora Maar, Picasso’s muse during the 1930s. Maar’s dark and angular features were a strong contrast with Picasso’s lover at the time, Marie-Therese Walter, and you can see the way Picasso has reduced Maar’s face to a series of geometric planes. He gives us both her profile and full face with the eyes causing us to flip views.

The colours are also inkeeping with Dora’s exotic looks and nature.
This clearly was a theme with Picasso as the portraits of Francoise Gilot also hold a bewitching gaze.

This portrait, ‘Woman in a yellow necklace’, was inspired by a meeting with Matisse -ever the rival, Matise was so taken with Francoise, that he suggested painting her. Picasso was having none of this and so produced this incredible work. Picasso used Matisse’s palette of vegetable green and cool blue. The face and neck were formed gheough the keyhole shape that was significant to Picasso. Francoise’s abundant hair is clearly her ‘crowning glory’ and Picasso’s loose brush strokes are evident here; almost as a caress, Francoise’s almond eyes, aquiline nose and sensuous mouth are evident, and the date of this painting, 31 May 1946, was also the week that she agreed to live with him.

Francoise’s gaze is so direct. It seems obvious that she was his whole existence at this point.

As mentioned earlier, there were also lithographs here which were interesting to see how he built up an idea and this method of peonting allowed him to make revisions as he went. None more so than the 18 part series of lithographs, ‘Two Nude Women’ from February 12 1946. The date is significant as it was around this time that Picasso was moving away his relationship with Dora Maar and moving along with Francoise.

The series began with a seated nude alongside a sleeping one. It became obvious that the sleeping figure was that of Dora, while the seated figure took on the characteristics of his new love, Francoise.  It was also clear that Picasso was using the figures of Goya’s ‘La Naja desnudes’ as well as Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe.

As the series was printed, Picasso lept making revisions, moving into a more abstract view of the two women, taking their features and distorting them in such a way as to make them invisible, especially Maar who, by the end, is completely unrecognisable whereas Francoise’s figure moves to catch our gaze.

Coming soon
Part Two: Dinner with Picasso



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