Saturday, August 26, 2017

Picasso on the Beach - Peggy's Granddaughter, Karole Vail, Steps into the Spotlight at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

Karole Vail & Luca Massismo Barbero - Photo: Cat Bauer
Director Karole Vail & Curator Luca Massismo Barbero - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) If ever an exhibition fit perfectly into a space, it's Picasso on the Beach, which opened today (Peggy's birthday - she would have been 119 years old) in the new Project Rooms at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Intimate and classy, the space offers a chance to get up close and personal with three of Picasso's masterpieces, On the Beach, Women Seated on the Beach and Large Bather with a Book, as well as studies that allow a glimpse into the maestro's creative process. Curated by the profound and prolific Luca Massimo Barbero, the exhibition is deeply moving and ties Picasso's artistic output to dramatic world events.

The opening of the show was especially exciting for those of us here in Venice because yesterday, August 25, Karole Vail, Peggy's granddaughter, held her first press conference as the new Director of the museum.

On the Beach by Pablo Picasso, Oil conté crayon & chalk on canvas, Feb 12, 1937 - Photo Cat Bauer
In February 1937, within a span of a few days, Pablo Picasso painted three beach-themed masterpieces while the Spanish artist was in Tremblay sul Mauldre, a village about 30 minutes outside of Versailles in France -- in the middle of winter and nowhere near a beach.

On the Beach study by Pablo Picasso, Feb 12, 1937, pencil on paper - Photo: Cat Bauer
At that time, world events were building to a dangerous crescendo. The Nazis were consolidating their power in Europe, and supported the policies of the Spanish military dictator, Francisco Franco. Two months later, on April 26, 1937, Franco would order the bombing of the town of Guernica, the spiritual capital of the Basque people, during the Spanish Civil War, an event that shocked Picasso, and outraged the world --  compelling Picasso to create his famous mural-sized oil painting, Guernica, in June, two months after the horrific event.

By that time, Picasso had already created The Dream and Lie of Franco, which is also on display, and contains such images as Franco riding a horse waving a sword and flag, and Franco being gored by a bull.

The Dream and Lie of Franco, part 1 (1937) by Pablo Picasso - Photo: Cat Bauer
The exhibition includes ten drawings, three paintings and a sculpture made by Picasso between February and December 1937, and is part of the Musée national Picasso-Paris Picasso-Méditerranée, an international cultural event. One of the studies is a preparatory drawing for On the Beach that Picasso gave his lover, Dora Maar as a gift.

On the Beach study by Pablo Picasso, Feb 10, 1937, pencil on paper - Photo: Cat Bauer
Back on March 8, 2014, I wrote a post about the Surrealistic artist, a woman in her own right -- and the only person who Picasso allowed to photograph the progression of Guernica -- which you can read here:

Dora Maar - DESPITE PICASSO - Women Artists Welcome Spring 2014 at Palazzo Fortuny


I thought that Peggy's granddaughter, Karole Vail, was terrific, hitting the perfect key at the press conference in her role as the new director: energetic, knowledgeable, poised and friendly. I had the opportunity to have a conversation with her during the nibbles, and she was charming. She comes to us from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where she worked on the curatorial staff for 20 years, and looks uncannily like a (prettier) version of Peggy.

Picasso on the Beach is timely and cautionary, and runs through January 7, 2018, so you have plenty of time to see it. Go to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian  Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. If ever an exhibition fit perfectly into a space, it's Picasso on the Beach, which opened today (Peggy's birthday - she would have been 119 years old) in the new Project Rooms at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

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