Headline Sep 29, 2014/


Samuel Courtauld,  founder of the Courtauld  Institute of Art in London, owned only one painting by Pablo Picasso.

He was devoted to the French impressionists and post-impressionists, and masterpiece by Manet, Renoir, Degas, Gauguin and Van Gogh formed the core of his renowned art-collection.

Yet there was something about Picasso's tender  "Child with a Dove"   painted in Paris in 1901, and that moved Courtauld to put it in 1928  and keep it in his personal collection until he died in 1947.

The painting captures a moment when Picasso aged 19,  "found his own voice as an artist,"  says Barnaby Wright of the Courtauld Gallery.With its bold outlines, melancholy mood and sombre palette, it anticipates the artist's blue period

Yet it sits comfortably alongside the gallery's post-impressionist works. It is now at the centre  of   ''Becoming Picasso'' , a tightly focused exhibition which considers this pivotal moment in Picasso's career.   

Picasso came to Paris for the first time in  1900, joined by Charles Casagemas, his closest friend and fellow painter. He threw himself into mastering the craft of his French contemporaries.

And managed to make enough of an impression to secure his first exhibition the next year. But a tumultuous affair soon left Casagemas emotionally distraught, and the two friends left Paris for Spain at the end of the year.

Picasso returned alone to Paris in the spring of  1901  and in less than six weeks produced most of the  64  works  that were exhibited in his acclaimed debut show that summer, organised by Ambroise Vollard, a leading modern art dealer.

The first room of the Courtauld show has a small selection of these works. ''Spanish Woman''  reveals the skill of of a savvy young artist.

Here Picasso deftly evokes a grandly crinolined young woman in the manner of Goya, yet he gives subject the confrontational pout and posture of a Parisian demimondaine.

Another painting, clearly influenced by Van Gogh, depicts a visitor to the artist's studio sitting in front of a wall hung with Picasso's proliferating paintings.

It was through the spectacle of Paris that Picasso began to try out different voices, such as Toulouse Lautrec's  in  ''French Can-Can '' and Degas's in:

''Dwarf Dancer (La Nana) . The artist also began signing his name ''Picasso''. A 1901 self-portrait has the swagger of a self-possessed, self-conscious dandy artist. 

On the threshold of the show's second  room,  two paintings on the far wall signal a drastic change in mood. One is an imagined scene of Picasso's friend Casagemas in  a coffin, the thick black lines and icy blues casting a determinedly tragic mood.

The other is  "Evocation (The Burial of Casagemas)" , in which an El-Greco-inspired farrago of figures surround a seemingly sainted hero swaddled in white and kissed to heaven by a prostitute.

In February,  1901 Casagemas had returned to Paris alone and shot himself in front of the woman who had jilted him. Picasso later cited this event as the catalyst for his blue period.

The emotional episode triggered a new more mature aesthetic style. Mr Wright also mentions that significance of Picasso's visit to the Saint Lazare women's prison later that year, which gave rise to a number of solemn portraits of women and children, two of which are presented here.

Regardless of the cause, this exhibition argues that  1901  witnesses a profound change in Picasso's art.

In  "Child with a Dove" ,  "Harlequin and Companion"  and  "Seated Harlequin", Picasso is no longer trying on his elders' clothes. These are original works, powerfully ambiguous and created with thrilling assurance.

Not all these paintings are masterpieces, but together this exhibition dramatizes a critical moment in the master's making.

With respectful dedication to all the painters, artists and performance artists in the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Kind Of Blue '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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