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Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change | Courtesy of Victoria Hart
Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change | Courtesy of Victoria Hart
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See 50 Picassos And More In Columbus, Ohio

Picture of Victoria Hart
Updated: 20 October 2016
Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change opened June 1, 2016, at the Columbus Museum of Art, located in Columbus, Ohio. The exhibition runs through September 11, 2016. Featuring over 50 works by Pablo Picasso drawn from major American and European museums and private collections, the focus is on Picasso’s works between 1914 and 1924, the tumultuous years surrounding World War I. While he never directly addressed the war in his work, his stylistic changes from Cubism to Classicism, and back again, demonstrate the impact of this historic moment.

The show includes oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and four costumes the artist designed for the avant-garde ballet Parade, in 1917. Several important canvases by Picasso’s contemporaries – including Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, and Diego Rivera – are also presented. A collection of photographs taken on August 12, 1916, by Picasso’s friend Jean Cocteau gives a hint of the life and times in Paris among the artists during the First World War.

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Visitors can try on replicas of costumes created by Picasso for the Ballet Parade in 1917. | Courtesy of Victoria Hart

‘A radical shift occurred in Picasso’s work in 1914,’ notes Simonetta Fraquelli, an independent curator and specialist in early 20th-century European art. ‘Following seven years of refining the visual language of Cubism, he began to introduce elements of naturalism to his work. This change in his production can be viewed against the backdrop of an unsteady cultural climate in Paris at the time. Many people identified the fragmented forms of Cubism with the German enemy and, therefore, perceived it as unpatriotic. This negative impression reverberated throughout Paris during the war and may have been a factor in Picasso’s works during this period, in that his two artistic styles – Cubism and Neoclassicism – are not antithetical. On the contrary, each informs the other, to the degree that the metamorphosis from one style to the other is so natural for the artist that occasionally they occur in the same work of art.’

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Curator Simonetta Fraquelli discusses Picasso’s work during World War I. | Courtesy of Victoria Hart

The exhibit is co-curated by David Stark, Chief Curator at the Columbus Museum of Art. ‘Picasso was a rule breaker and a rebel,’ says Stark. ‘CMA celebrates the creative process and its results and values the role artists play in cultivating imagination, connection and innovation. Picasso was a restless, creative spirit continuously searching for new and different ways of doing and thinking. He was endlessly questioning and constantly exploring the infinite possibilities of the world. Picasso embodied the drive for creative expression that is integral to the human experience. CMA champions the creativity of Picasso and fosters the creativity in each of us while encouraging everyone to think like an artist.’

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Co-curators Simonetta Fraquelli and David Stark discuss the exhibit. | Courtesy of Victoria Hart

As a compliment to Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change, a second exhibit is running at the museum. Pablo Picasso: 25 Years of Edition Ceramics features ceramic pieces created by Pablo Picasso in collaboration with George and Suzanne Ramie and the artisans at their Madoura pottery workshop in Vallauris, Southern France, between the years of 1947-1971. The Ramies set aside space in their studio for Picasso to pot whenever he pleased. In return, Picasso allowed the Ramies to make and sell editions of ceramic pieces he produced at Madoura and to retain all profits. Picasso personally made thousands of individual ceramic pieces. He kept virtually all of his own thrown pieces, most of which are now owned by this family or museums.

Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change
Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change | Courtesy of Victoria Hart

Over the years, Picasso and the Madoura studio produced 633 different plates, bowls, vases and pitchers, in limited editions ranging from 25 to 500. Picasso’s involvement in producing the objects varied. Sometimes he made the clay molds used for designs, while other times he painted on plates or pitchers taken from the drying racks. Picasso and Madoura artisans then finished the prototypes and produced the editions. Landau Traveling Exhibitions of Los Angeles, California organized the ceramics exhibit.

Supporting the museum’s efforts to encourage creativity, there is a place for play amongst the great works. Costumes reproducing Picasso’s designs from Parade are available to try on. A mock theater backdrop lets patrons take photographs. Patrons who tweet those photos to #picassoatcma will instantly become a part of the exhibit. Three wall displays are also available to allow those inspired to create their own works of Cubism.

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Aspiring Cubists get ‘Hands On’ at the Columbus Museum of Art | Courtesy of Victoria Hart

A series of special events is planned during the exhibit run. Open Studio from 1-3 pm each Saturday encourages visitors of all ages to drop in the Creativity Studio to explore ideas, solve creative challenges, and collaborate with friends and family.

Columbus, Ohio is located in the center of the state at the intersection of I-70 and I-71. The downtown location of the museum makes it accessible to highways and downtown hotels. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and until 9:00 PM every Thursday. Museum admission is $14 for adults, $8 for seniors and students six and older, and free for members and children five and younger. Sundays are always free for everyone, regardless of membership status.

Columbus Museum of Art, 480 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH, USA, +1 614 221 6801

Columbus Museum of Art Sculpture Garden | Courtesy of Victoria Hart
Columbus Museum of Art Sculpture Garden | Courtesy of Victoria Hart