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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Harlequin Musican, 1924. Oil on canvas, 51 3/16 × 38 1/4 in. (130 × 97.2 cm). Given in loving memory of her husband, Taft Schreiber, by Rita Schreiber. National Gallery of Art, Washington. 1989.31.2. © 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Barnes Foundation, in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, presents Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change. On view February 21 through May 9, 2016, at the Barnes, the exhibition will travel to the Columbus Museum of Art in June. Curated by Simonetta Fraquelli, an independent curator and specialist in early 20th-century European art, the exhibition examines the dramatic fluctuations in Picasso’s style during the period surrounding the First World War, from 1912 to 1924.  

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Still life with compote and glass, Winter 1914-15. Oil On Canvas, 25 x 31 in. Columbus Museum of Art. Gift of Ferdinand Howald © Succession Picasso 2012

Inspired by the Columbus Museum’s Still Life with Compote and Glass (1914–1915) by Picasso and the Barnes’s extensive Picasso holdings, Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change features some 50 works by Picasso drawn from major American and European museums and private collections. The show includes oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and four costumes the artist designed for an avant-garde ballet, Parade, in 1917. The show also features several pieces by Picasso’s contemporaries, including Georges Braque and Henri Matisse. 

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Pipe and Sheet Music, 1914. Gouache And Graphite On Pasted Papers, 20 1/2 x 26 1/2 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice McAshan © Succession Picasso 2011

Unlike other members of the Parisian avant-garde, Picasso never directly addressed the First World War as a subject in his art. Instead, he began experimenting with naturalistic representation, turning out classical figure drawings that outraged many of his avant-garde colleagues—this was quite a shift from the radical cubist approach he had been developing since 1907. Picasso did not give up cubism, however. Instead, he shuttled back and forth between two different styles for over a decade, breaking forms apart and making them whole again. This exhibition looks closely at the strange ambivalence that characterized Picasso's wartime production, exploring it in connection with changes to his personal life and with the political meanings ascribed to cubism during the war. 

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Glass and Pipe, 1918. Oil With Sand On Canvas, 20 1/2 x 26 1/2 in. 13 3/4 x 10 5/8 in. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection. © Succession Picasso 2011

A radical shift occurred in Picasso’s work in 1914,” notes curator Simonetta Fraquelli. “Following seven years of refining the visual language of cubism, he began to introduce elements of naturalism to his work.” This change in his production can be viewed against the backdrop of an unsteady cultural climate in Paris during the First World War. Many people identified the fragmented forms of cubism with the German enemy and therefore perceived it as unpatriotic. This negative impression reverberated throughout Paris during the First World War and may have been a factor in Picasso’s shift in styles. However, Fraquelli says, “what becomes evident when looking at Picasso’s work between 1914 and 1924, is that his two artistic styles—cubism and neoclassicism—are not antithetical; on the contrary, each informs the other, to the degree that the metamorphosis from one style to the other is so natural for the artist that occasionally they occur in the same works of art.” 

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Seated Pierrot1918. Oil On Canvas, 92 x 73 cm. Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA © Succession Picasso 2015

Major works from the Picasso museums in Barcelona and Paris will be included in the exhibition, including Seated Woman (1920). 

The exhibition also features four costumes that Picasso designed for the avant-garde ballet, Parade, which premiered in Paris in 1917: the original Chinese Conjurer costume and reproductions of the American Manager, French Manager, and Horse costumes. Performed by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, with music by Erik Satie, story by Jean Cocteau, and the choreography of Léonide Massine, Parade was the first cross-disciplinary collaboration of its kind. The ballet, which tells the story of an itinerant circus group performing a sideshow, was viewed as a revolutionary approach to theater. Picasso was the first avant-garde artist involved in such a production—not only designing the costumes, but also the theater curtain and set. A watercolor and graphite sketch of the curtain design and a pencil sketch of the Chinese Conjurer costume are included in the exhibition. Picasso drew inspiration for his designs from the modern world—everything from circuses and carousels to music halls and the cinema. With Picasso’s inventive geometric costumes and naturalistic curtain design, Parade may be the ultimate fusion of cubist and classical forms.
 

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), L'Homme a la Guitare, 1918. Oil On Canvas, 130 x 89 cm, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany © Succession Picasso 2015

Picasso’s juxtaposition of figurative and cubist techniques can be seen as an expression of artistic freedom during a time of great conflict, and his shifts in style became a means of not repeating, in his words, “the same vision, the same technique, the same formula.” The works by Picasso’s contemporaries, such as Diego Rivera’s Still Life with Bread Knife from 1915 and Matisse’s Lorette in a Red Jacket from 1917, offer further insight into the shifting cultural climate in France during this transformative period. 

Managing curator for Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change at the Barnes Foundation is Martha Lucy. Managing curator at the Columbus Museum of Art is David Stark. 

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Vase, Gourd, and Fruit on a Table (Vase, Gourde, Fruits sur une table), 1908-9. Oil On Canvas, 28 3/4 x 23 9/16 in., 73.03 x 59.85 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, John Hay Whitney, B.A. 1926, M.A. (Hon.) 1956, Collection, 1982.111.3 © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Seated Woman, 1920 (detail). Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 × 25 9/16 in. (92 × 65 cm). Musée Picasso, Paris, MP67. Photo: J.G. Berizzi. © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Dog and Cock, 1921. Oil On Canvas, 61 x 30 1/8 in., 154.9 x 76.5 cm. Yale University Art Gallery. Gift of Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, 1958.1 © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Still life with a Guitar, 1924. Oil On Canvas, Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Still Life with Fish, 1923. Oil On Canvas, 18 1/4 x 21 1/2 in., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, The Philip L. Goodwin Collection, Gift of James L. Goodwin, Henry Sage Goodwin, and Richmond L. Brown, 1958.220 © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), The Source (La Source), 1921. Oil On Canvas, 64 x 90 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Donation 1970 from Grace and Philip Sandblom © 2010 Picasso Administration, Paris, France.

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Bottle of Anis del Mono, 1915. Oil On Canvas, 18 1/8 x 21 1/2 in., 46 x 54.6 cm. Detroit Institute of Arts, Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill, 70.192 © Succession Picasso 2015.

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Le Vieux Marc, 1912. Oil On Canvas, 38.5 x 55.5 cm, Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France © Succession Picasso 2015.

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Still Life with a Bottle, Playing Cards, and a Wineglass on a Table, 1914. Oil, Sand, And Graphite On Sketch Board, Mounted On Cradled Wood Panel, 12 1/2 x 16 7/8 in., 31.8 x 42.9 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1952, 1952-61-95 © Succession Picasso 2015.

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Still Life with a Bottle, Playing Cards, and a Wineglass on a Table, 1936. Oil On Canvas, 28 3/4 x 23 1/2 in., 73 x 59.7 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection, 2006.52.22 © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Vase of Flowers and Pitcher, 1937. Oil On Canvas, 23 7/16 x 27 1/2 in., 59.5 x 69.9 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, 1954.29.1 © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), First Steps, 1943. Oil On Canvas, 51 1/4 x 38 1/4 in., 130.2 x 97.1 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, 1958.27 © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Seated Woman (Femme assise), 1947. Oil On Canvas, 39 5/16 x 31 3/4 in., 99.9 x 80.7 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, Katharine Ordway Collection, 1980.12.21 © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Horseman, Page, and Monk (Chevalier, page et moine), 1951. Gesso And Oil On Wood Panel, 17 x 21 3/4 in., 43.18 x 55.245 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection, 2006.52.21 © Succession Picasso 2015

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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), The Painter in his Studio (Le peintre dans son atelier), 1963. Oil On Canvas, 23 3/8 x 35 7/8 in., 59.37 x 91.12 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection, 2006.52.23 © Succession Picasso 2015