For 2 decades now, the Frist Art Museum has been showcasing some of the world’s most ancient and interesting art and artifacts. So, to kick off their 20th-anniversary celebration, a six-room exhibit has been curated to display the talents of one of the most famous and world-renowned artists, Pablo Picasso.
The Muse De Picasso in Paris, France loaned Nashville over 70 original works from Picasso’s private collection. The exhibit is set up in those six rooms with pieces from Picasso’s different periods. Pieces like “Portrait of Dora Maar”, “The Kiss”, “Pregnant Woman” and more are all on display. Frist Art Museum Director, Susan Edwards, describes the exhibit as having “excellent examples from every period of his production. And any art student or anyone who thought they knew about Picasso will learn more.”
The exhibit was specifically designed by Mark Scala to reinforce the immense creativity of Picasso. Each room seems as if it could be featuring an entirely different artist. But they’re all by the same man. They are all from the same mind. Picasso himself said “Basically I am perhaps a painter without style. Style often locks the painter into the same vision, the same technique, the same formula during years and years, sometime during one’s whole lifetime.” One man had the capacity to see the world as it was, and rearrange it into some of the most interesting and captivating art the world has ever known.
While walking through each exhibit, try finding a piece that speaks to you. Whether you are an avid art analyzer, or this is your first time going to a gallery, take the time to be invested in some pieces. Two pieces that stuck out the most to me were, interestingly, both named “The Kiss”. In both images, you can see that Picasso depicts a kiss as becoming one with the other person, losing yourself in the moment with them. The Kiss from 1925 that is shown in the Magic Figures room seems to focus more on the excitement and passion that comes from kissing. The colors blend and the bodies mold to one another. They pull each other close and their lips become one. “The Kiss” that was created in 1938 and featured in the Disfigured Figures room seems to show a less loving kiss. It’s boxy- less emotional with more straight lines. Though both paintings depict the same basic human action, they show it in two completely different lights. And the fun part about art is that there is no correct way to see it. You get to interpret it in a way that is all your own.
Something to note about Picasso before going to the exhibit is that Picasso was in no way an “abstract artist”. Oxford Languages describes “Abstract Art” as “art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures.” Though Picasso’s work may seem to fit that definition at first glance, it is important to know that he was very intentional with his rearrangements of the natural figure. If you look closely, you can see that careful consideration went into the placements and irregular arrangements of the body parts. “The secret to many of my deformations- which many people do not understand-” Picasso once said, “is that there is an interaction, an inner effect between the lines in a painting: one line attracts the other and at the point of maximum attraction the lines curve in toward the attracting point and form is altered.” This is to say that there is a reason behind his displacements. Picasso’s art may seem whimsical and haphazard at first glance, but there was always a clear path that he was taking with his art. He used ideas from his past works to mold them into his new stages of work and he was inspired by other cultures, specifically African cultures, to create his masterpieces.
Oftentimes it’s easy to think of famous creators like Picasso as originators, but it is important to remember that he too found inspiration in other existing works. “My greatest artist emotions were felt when the sublime beauty of sculptures made by anonymous artists from Africa suddenly appeared to me. These works by a man of religious faith, passionate and strictly logical, are the most powerful and beautiful the human imagination has produced.” This inspiration can be seen in many of his pieces, but some are more obvious than others.
Right now, the Muse De Picasso in Paris, France is closed, so Nashville is the only place in the U.S. that you can see Picasso. Whether this is your first experience with art or you have a Frist membership, Picasso Figures is one exhibit that you surely do not want to miss. Be sure to get your tickets now as some days are already sold out. The exhibit will be hosted in Nashville until May 2, 2021, when it will then move north to Quebec, Canada.
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