Sydney locals might abhor Melbournian’s enthusiasm for Doc Martens and almond lattes, but it’s hard to argue about the quality of exhibitions that the National Gallery of Victoria can attract. This winter the NGV has secured a serious bag with the announcement of The Picasso Century, an exhibition that focuses on the career of Pablo Picasso and his contemporaries.
Drawn together in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou and the Musée National Picasso-Paris, the NGV’s exhibition is set to display more than 70 works by Picasso alongside over 100 artworks by his peers, as a look at the artistic context in which Picasso worked. Shining the spotlight on the other painters, intellectuals and poets that Picasso associated with during his career, The Picasso Century will also explore interactions with Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein and many more.
In addition to examining Picasso’s relationships with his influential peers, the exhibition will also show a number of works rarely seen in Australia, including by Natalia Goncharova, Julio González, Wifredo Lam, Suzanne Valadon and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva. Rather than a retrospective on the life of Picasso, the exhibit instead focuses on his career as an artist, the circles in which he moved and the ideas he shared with those he considered his equals.
Split into a total of 15 thematic sections by the NGV, The Picasso Century works its way through seven decades of activity, focusing individually on Picasso’s various periods, including the Blue Period, Cubism and Surrealism. Beginning with his era-defining work in establishing the Cubism movement, which redefined how subjects were depicted, the exhibition follows his work into his interest in Surrealism that he shared with the likes of Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí.
“This exhibition offers visitors an extraordinary insight into the development of modern art and the preeminent figure at its centre, Pablo Picasso,” said Tony Ellwood AM, the Director of the NGV. “Through more than 170 works of art – including many that have never been seen in Australia – audiences will come to appreciate the many ways in which Picasso influenced – and was influenced by – the artistic community that surrounded him.”
Laurent Le Bon, President of the Centre Pompidou, was equally excited about the exhibition, as “Picasso [is] 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.”
The Picasso Century will run at the NGV from the 10th of June until the 9th of October, cementing itself as a must-see event to break up Melbourne’s colder months this year. So if you’re down south with a latte in hand, make sure you mark it in the diary.