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Masterpieces of Modern Art: The Picasso Century at NGV International, Melbourne

ByJenevieve Kok
Masterpieces of Modern Art: The Picasso Century at NGV International, Melbourne

Installation view. Photo by Sean Fennessy.

From 10 June - 9 Oct 2022, the world-premiere Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, The Picasso Century, will be on at NGV International in Melbourne. This exhibition charts the extraordinary career of Pablo Picasso in dialogue with the many artists, poets, and intellectuals with whom he intercepted and interacted throughout the 20th century. These artists include Guillaume Apollinaire, Georges Braque, Salvador Dalí, Alberto Giacometti, Françoise Gilot, Valentine Hugo, Marie Laurencin, Dora Maar, André Masson, Henri Matisse, Dorothea Tannin, and Gertrude Stein. 

Installation view. Photo by Tom Ross.

Exclusively developed for the NGV by the Centre Pompidou and the Musée national Picasso-Paris, the exhibition features over 80 works by Picasso alongside over 100 works by his contemporaries drawn from French national collections as well as the NGV Collection. Visitors will also have the opportunity to discover a rich selection of works by artists rarely exhibited in Australia, including Natalia Goncharova, Julio González, Wifredo Lam, Suzanne Valadon, and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva. This exhibition is organised by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Musée national Picasso-Paris, and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Installation view. Photo by Sean Fennessy.

The Picasso Century is curated by noted scholar of 20th-century painting Didier Ottinger, Deputy Director of the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris. This exciting exhibition examines the diverse influences, encounters, and collaborative relationships that steered Picasso through many distinct artistic periods, such as his Blue Period, Cubism, and Surrealism, drawing lines between Picasso's famous creations and the world around him. 

By exploring Picasso’s career through his personal, artistic and intellectual engagement with his peers, the exhibition provides a unique insight into Picasso's legacy as one of the most influential and celebrated artists in the 20th century, as well as the community of artists from which he emerged.

Installation view. Photo by Sean Fennessy.

"Picasso reunited at last with Australia and his fellow accomplices and travellers. I am delighted with this collaboration between two French institutions and the National Gallery of Victoria: this exceptional partnership will allow the Australian public to discover Picasso's paintings, sculptures, drawings, ceramics, and the works of the artists with whom he never ceased to interact. I wish to extend a warm thank you to all those who have made this magnificent project possible." - Laurent Le Bon, President, Centre Pompidou

Twelve thematic sections trace the many distinct periods that shaped Picasso's career over more than seven decades, while simultaneously situating his work within a broader artistic and geographical context. Each exhibition section provides a nuanced perspective on a rich century of artistic experiment, in which Picasso stands prominently among many innovators.

The beginning of the exhibition explores Picasso’s formative years, which encapsulate significant artistic developments, most notably Cubism, the development of which Picasso led with Georges Braque. Considered by many the 'experiment' that most radically transformed 20th-century art, Cubism saw Western art move away from representing likeness and, among many innovations, introduced multiple and simultaneous perspectives into a composition, resulting in the style’s recognisable fragmented imagery.

Installation view. Photo by Tom Ross. 

Installation view. Photo by Tom Ross.

The Picasso Century also examines Picasso’s place within the multicultural crucible that was inter-war Paris, and his interaction with other artists and intellectuals including André Breton, Georges Bataille, Aimé Césaire, Alberto Giacometti and Gertrude Stein. The exhibition will be particularly rich with works from Picasso’s Surrealist period, presented alongside works by artists including Kay Sage, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico and André Masson.

Installation view. Photo by Sean Fennessy.

Installation view. Photo by Tom Ross. 

The final sections of the exhibition explore Picasso’s work in an increasingly international art world post-1945 and examine the contested artistic output towards the end of his career. His works of the 1950s and 1960s are positioned alongside later generations of painters, including Francis Bacon and Willem de Kooning.

"I see a woman crying (weeping woman) Tate Liverpool" by Rineke Dijkstra. 2009, audiovisual installation. Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne-Centre de création industrielle. Purchase, 2011. © Rineke Dijkstra Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerditchian/Dist. RMN-GP

The inevitable question of Picasso’s legacy in the 21st century will be posed through the inclusion of the 2009 video work "I see a woman crying (Weeping Woman) Tate Liverpool" by Rineke Dijkstra. This engaging contemporary work invites reflection on Picasso’s position as a point of reference for all who seek to understand the history of 20th-century art.

Installation view. Photo by Tom Ross.

About NGV International

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the oldest and most visited gallery in Australia. Situated over two magnificent buildings – NGV International and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia – the Gallery hosts a wide range of international and local artists, exhibitions, programs and events; from contemporary art to major international historic exhibitions, fashion and design, architecture, sound and dance.

Founded in 1861, today the NGV holds the most significant collection of art in the region; a vast treasury of more than 76,000 works that span thousands of years and a wealth of ideas, disciplines and styles. It is a collection that is yours, and it’s free! We warmly welcome you to share in these riches and the many activities, exhibitions and events developed at the NGV for us all to enjoy.

Exhibition Dates: 10 June - 9 Oct 2022 
Address: NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Opening Times: Mon - Sun, 10am - 5pm

All images are courtesy of NGV International.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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