Barcelona Skyline

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Picasso looks at Degas

The Museu Picasso of Barcelona has a unique and very special exhibit going on until January 16. The idea of Picasso davant Degas is this. Paintings of the two great icons are hung side by side. So we can see similar themes and obsessions as well as similarities and differences in style.
Picasso used to say: "When there is anything to steal, I steal". Throughout his work he adapted and commented on many of his great predecessors's works. (Check out for example his cubist "remakes" of Velaquez's Las Meninas at the museum's permanent exhibit.) And Degas was no exception. When Picasso moved to Paris in 1904 he lived in the same neighborhood as Degas.
Although they apparently never met the two revolutionary icons shared many of the same obsessions and were always experimenting with new forms and media which this exhibit explores.
A couple of us from the hotel checked it out yesterday, and we really enjoyed it. Degas of course had his fixation with ballerinas; Picasso picked up theme even before his relationship with Olga Khokhlova, the ballet dancer. Side by side are two glassy-eyed bar scenes and paintings featuring women's hair being brushed. They are eerily similar in some ways, but reveal key differences in style. In fact Picasso based many of his later pieces on works for Degas from his own collection. Interestingly enough Picasso was convinced that Degas resembled his own father and he often painted Degas/father into some of his paintings, especially the voyeuristic ones concerning women. A little strange, maybe. But very interesting.
In any case this is the "first full-scale exploration of Picasso's lifelong fascination with Degas's art and personality" and was organized by Francine Art Museum of Williamstown, Massachusetts and the Picasso Museum of Barcelona. It's definitely worth the visit and is in within easy walking distance from the Hotel Principal.

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