PICASSO ON PAPER at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam

Pablo Picasso Buste de Femme d’apres Cranach (detail)

9th February – 12th May.

For Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) graphic art was a medium he could experiment with to his heart’s content. Picasso produced over 2,500 prints in a great variety of techniques. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has nearly four hundred of these prints in its collection, a selection of which will now be shown at the Kunsthal. Some of the highlights in the exhibition ‘Picasso on Paper’ include the colour linocut prints depicting still lives, bull fights, scenes from mythology and especially women. Picasso taught himself the technique of the colour linocut in 1958, when he was already well into his seventies. This exhibition also marks the start of ‘Boijmans Next Door’, a collaboration between a number of Rotterdam museums to keep part of the Boijmans collection visible in the city over the coming years.

Masterly control of the linocut technique 

Without doubt, a series of eight subsequent proofs of the colour linocut La Dame à la Collerett’ (1962) is one of the milestones in the exhibition. This series, featuring a portrait Picasso made of his wife Jacqueline in historical attire, wonderfully demonstrates the artist’s working process while making prints. La Dame à la Collerette unites two aspects of Picasso’s artistic work: his masterly control of the linocut technique and the recurring theme of ‘the woman’.

The woman as muse and model

Women not only played an important role in Picasso’s personal life, but also in his work. Picasso’s creativity was even influenced by his life partner or lover to such a degree that his sizable body of work is sometimes arranged according to the period he was together with a certain woman. In an etching from 1905, one of his earlier prints, we encounter Madeleine, a model with whom he had a short relationship. And the young Marie-Thérèse Walter, who was his lover from 1927, was the principal muse for Vollard Suite (1930-37). This series is another one of the highlights in the graphic work of Picasso. In Vollard Suite the woman, portrayed in many different situations, acts as the sculptor’s model. She is also made love to and spied on by the minotaur, half man, half bull, in compositions with strong surrealistic undertones. In his later graphic work, eroticism and voyeurism remained important themes. Jacqueline Roque (1927-1986) was Picasso’s final life partner. Of all the portraits Picasso produced, those of Jacqueline make up the largest section.