Picasso
4/3–6/30/2019

Printmaking as Experiment

Pablo Picasso is considered the quintessential modern artistic genius. With apparent ease, he availed himself of a wide variety of genres, techniques and materials. Especially printmaking offered him a medium for experimentation and ever-new manifestations of the pleasure he took in inventing. The exhibition examines Picasso's innovative use of relief, intaglio and planographic printing methods from his early Paris years to his late period.

Exhibition

About the exhibition

The Städel Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings devotes an exhibition titled “Picasso. Printmaking as Experiment” specifically to Pablo Picassos (1881–1973) graphic oeuvre. Featuring more than sixty etchings, lithographs and linoleum cuts, the exhibition presents a selection from the holdings of the Städel Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings, enhanced by a small number of loans from the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and a private collection. The selection vividly illustrates the full range and development of Picasso’s graphic oeuvre from the early years in Paris to his late work.

Whether etching, drypoint, lithography, or linocut, with never-dwindling curiosity and virtuosity, Picasso gained expertise in a wide variety of printmaking techniques, always questioning what he had found in new and experimental ways. The exhibition is structured according to the various printing techniques, which are always closely linked to the artist’s biography. The print series “Suite Vollard”, which Picasso created between 1930 and 1937 and with which he made full artistic use of the diversity of intaglio printing techniques, has its own section within the exhibition.


Picture: Pablo Picasso, Buste Modern Style (Jugendstil-Büste), 1949, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Graphische Sammlung, Foto: Städel Museum, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

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Gallery

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    Pablo Picasso, Jacqueline au chapeau noir (Jacqueline in Black Hat), 1962

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Jacqueline au chapeau noir (Jacqueline in Black Hat), 1962
    Linoleum cut in four colours from one plate: beige, red, brown and black on Arches wove paper
    75,2 x 62,2 mm (Sheet), 64,0 x 52,7 mm (Plate)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Department of Prints and Drawings
    Photo: Städel Museum
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

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    Pablo Picasso, Couple et Flûtistes au bord du Lac (Couple and Flutists at the Lakeside), 1959

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Couple et Flûtistes au bord du Lac (Couple and Flutists at the Lakeside), 1959
    Linoleum cut in five colours from four plates: crème, blue, black, beige and dark brown on Arches wove paper
    62,0 x 75,1 cm (Sheet); 52,9 x 63,6 cm (Plate)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Department of Prints and Drawings
    Photo: Städel Museum
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

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    Pablo Picasso, Le Repas frugal (The Frugal Repast), 1904

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Le Repas frugal (The Frugal Repast), 1904
    Print 1913 from the series Les Saltimbanques
    Etching on Van Gelder wove paper
    61,0 x 46,6 cm (Sheet); 46,3 x 37,7 cm (Plate)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Graphische Sammlung
    Photo: Städel Museum
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

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    Pablo Picasso, Portrait de Jacqueline au chapeau de paille (Portrait of Jacqueline in a Straw Hat), 1962

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Portrait de Jacqueline au chapeau de paille (Portrait of Jacqueline in a Straw Hat), 1962
    Linoleum cut in five colours from two plates: grey, yellow, red, light blue and purple on Arches wove paper
    62,6 x 44,4 cm (Sheet)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Department of Prints and Drawings
    Photo: Städel Museum
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

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    Pablo Picasso, Minotaure aveugle guidé par une Fillette dans la Nuit (Blind Minotaur guided by a Girl in the Night), 1934

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Minotaure aveugle guidé par une Fillette dans la Nuit (Blind Minotaur guided by a Girl in the Night), 1934, Print 1939
    Sheet 97 from the series Suite Vollard
    Mezzotint on Montval laid paper
    33,6 x 44,1 cm (Sheet), 24,7 x 34,7 cm (Plate)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Graphische Sammlung
    Photo: Städel Museum © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

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    Pablo Picasso, Sculpteur et son modèle se regardant dans un miroir calé sur un autoportrait sculpté, 1933

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Sculpteur et son modèle se regardant dans un miroir calé sur un autoportrait sculpté (Sculptor and Model Looking at Herself in a Mirror Propped Up Against a Sculpted Self-Portrait), 1933, Print 1939
    Sheet 69 from the series Suite Vollard
    Etching on Montval laid paper
    44,7 x 33,7 cm (Sheet); 36,9 x 29,6 cm (Plate)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Department of Prints and Drawings
    Photo: Städel Museum
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

Worth Knowing

Worth Knowing

Early Work

The exhibition begins with a key work from Picasso’s graphic oeuvre, the large-format and pictorially elaborated print “Le Repas frugal (The Frugal Repast)” from 1904. The artist, who had just settled in Paris, devoted himself extensively to the technique of etching for the first time, and immediately created a masterpiece. “Le Repas frugal” was created at the turning point between Picasso’s Blue and the Rose Periods, during which his motifs increasingly revolved around the universe of the circus. The acrobats and harlequins portrayed here served him as symbols of the precarious, somewhat “itinerant” position of the artist in his time.

Suite Vollard

The central gallery of the exhibition hall features an exemplary selection of twenty-three sheets from the “Suite Vollard”, including the masterful mezzotint engraving “Minotaure aveugle guidé par une Fillette dans la Nuit (Blind Minotaur Guided in the Night by a Little Girl)” from 1934. The altogether 100 etching plates in the series created between 1930 and 1937 were executed during a turbulent period in the life of the then fifty-year-old artist, who separated from his wife Olga Kokhlova and had a relationship with the young Marie-Thérèse Walter. Picasso processed these experiences in his series of prints.

Here, for the first time, Picasso exploited the entire spectrum of intaglio printing. Through his encounter with the Parisian printer Roger Lacourière in late 1934, Picasso had become acquainted with new techniques such as aquatint, mezzotint, and the sugar-lift process, the painterly effects of which contrasted with the clear graphic lines of the etchings. The “Suite Vollard” thus demonstrates Picasso’s extraordinary craftsmanship and his great joy in experimenting.

Lithographs

Whereas the various intaglio printing techniques had dominated his graphic oeuvre for almost fifty years, after the end of the Second World War the artist devoted himself for the first time seriously to another printing process, namely lithography. The artist quickly mastered the possibilities of planographic printing and exploited its rich variety in a large number of works. For over a decade, lithography dominated his graphic work. The motifs of this period are cheerful and depict images of his lovers and bullfights, as well as antique bacchants, fauns, and satyrs. Here, Picasso experimented with unusual tools, such as wire comb and scrapers, as well as with the use of unconventional solvents to prepare the printing process.

Linocuts

The colorful linocuts from Picasso’s late work conclude the exhibition in the opposite wing of the exhibition hall. From 1954 onwards, he devoted himself to this relief-printing technique, which until then had had no reputation as an artistic medium. The now over seventy-year-old artist helped the linocut to an unexpected heyday—in just ten years, he created more than 200 works. Linocut allowed Picasso to create pictorial motifs out of large, radiant colour fields, developing his own innovative approaches.

#Picasso

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