More than 70 institutions in the nine countries that border the Mediterranean have participated in the Picasso- Méditerranée project. This project, directed under the presidency of the Picasso National Museum in Paris, aims to bring to the fore the wealth of cultural connections that unite Picasso and the Mediterranean.
Izmir is the final leg of the exhibition, which consists of Picasso’s works and has been adapted to the geography that inspired him. The activities organized as part of the project aim to bring visitors closer to the artist. The final exhibition of the Picasso-Méditerranée project, Picasso: The Art of Spectacle opened its doors on September 18 at the Arkas Art Center.
Turkish Airlines is the main sponsor of the exhibition Picasso: The Art of Spectacle, which focuses on the artist’s work for the performing arts, such as the circus, ballet, and theater. The exhibition, which sheds light on a little-known aspect of Picasso’s work, demonstrates the effect of the performing arts on his life. Picasso: The Art of Spectacle, which includes 83 pieces on loan from the Paris Picasso Museum, the Fondation Julio González, the Opera Garnier, and the Kontaxopoulos-Prokopchuk Collection in Brussels, was organized under the curatorship of Jean Luc Maeso and the directorship of Müjde Unustası.
The exhibition opens the doors to the world of the performing arts that deeply affected Picasso and includes many famous works such as The Acrobat, The Matador, Bullfight: Death of the Matador, and Woman with a Blue Hat. It also features costumes designed for theater and dance performances, and sketches, sculptures, and photographs that document Picasso’s friendship with artists like Julio González and Jean Cocteau. The separate exhibition spaces in the historical halls of the Arkas Art Center have been organized according to the artist’s interest throughout his life in performing arts like bullfighting, the circus, and ballet. The exhibition presents a multifaceted, colorful portrait of Picasso.
Picasso’s interest in the performing arts began with the bullfights that he attended on a regular basis during his childhood in Malaga. Bullfights were a source of inspiration for the artist from his childhood until his death; it is possible to see figures of horses, bulls, and picadors (a bullfighter mounted on a horse) in almost every artistic period of his life. The greatest example of this is Picasso’s first painting, created at the age of nine. The work, entitled Le Picador, depicts bullfighting. This influence can also be seen in his first engraving and in his sculpture of later years. Le Matador, a work of 1970, also depicts the figure of a bullfighter, but this time dates back to the last years of his life. The oil painting is included in the exhibition.
The artist’s interest in the stage continued with his stage designs and costumes for the ballets Parade and Tricorne in the later years of his career. With this work Picasso went from the two-dimensional work on canvas to three- dimensional stage creations, opening the doors to a new world. For him, the stage was a place that was not only surreal, but also a place where everything was possible. Just as in his paintings, Picasso took an innovative path in his stage décor and costume designs. The stage became part of Picasso’s life, and in time he found his own place in the circus and the theater. It can be said that these undertakings were important for Cubism, a movement led by Picasso in later periods of his life.
The world in which Picasso lived, the social milieu in which he found himself, his friends, his relationships, and his inner world were always included in his art. It was not only the world of performing arts that influenced Picasso, he was also inspired by his colleagues when creating art. Glimpses into Picasso’s personal life are offered by photographs and documents that connect him to the people he was close to throughout his life and who deeply affected his art.
Picasso: The Art of Spectacle is an important exhibition in two aspects. First, the selection, consisting of sketches, drawings, paintings, and photographs, emphasizes a different aspect
of the artist. Second, thanks to this exhibition, which acts as a bridge between Paris and Izmir, the residents of Izmir are able to enjoy such an extensive selection of Picasso’s works.
For those who want to visit the exhibition before the end of December, there is an extra point to consider: the stunning installation by the French artist Bernard Pras, which has a Picasso theme, will be on display at the Institut Français de Turquie in Izmir until December 31.
The artist was inspired by Picasso’s famous portraits of Dora Maar. The work Dora, which consists of ordinary objects, was prepared to coincide with the exhibition at the Arkas Art Center.
Picasso produced thousands of works throughout his life and his vision, which changed the direction of modern art, put a stamp on the 20th century. Even if the first works by the Spanish artist that come to mind are Guernica, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Girl before a Mirror, and The Weeping Woman, a very different Picasso will emerge after visiting this exhibition. Picasso once famously said, “Everything you can imagine is real.” In this special exhibition, the artist brings the visitor into the world of the performing arts, where everything is possible. The exhibition Picasso: The Art of Spectacle is open to visitors until January 5, 2020.