Guggenheim readies Young Picasso in Paris show for May opening
NEW YORK — The Guggenheim Museum will present Young Picasso in Paris, an intimate exhibition comprising a total of 10 paintings and works on paper executed during Pablo Picasso’s introduction to the French capital. Young Picasso in Paris will open on May 12 and continue through August 6.
Created during the course of one pivotal year, the 10 works exemplify a period of stylistic experimentation and show the artist’s burgeoning mastery of character study. Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) arrived in Paris from Barcelona in autumn 1900, during the final weeks of the Universal Exhibition that included his own art in the Spanish pavilion. The ville lumiere, or “city of lights,” captivated, and ultimately transformed, the 19-year-old Spaniard. He absorbed everything Paris had to offer during his initial two-month stay and during his return the following May through the end of 1901. Picasso patronized not only the art galleries, but also the bohemian cafés, raucous nightclubs and sensational dance halls in the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre. These sites of social gathering and the various types of people who frequented them quickly became a primary source of inspiration.
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, Young Picasso in Paris will highlight a defining work, Le Moulin de la Galette (circa November 1900), from the Guggenheim collection. One of his first paintings executed in Paris, and sold by the artist shortly thereafter, Le Moulin de la Galette is also the subject of an extensive conservation analysis and treatment project that will be unveiled with the exhibition. The famous dance hall — formerly a mill engaged in the production of a brown bread, or galette — had also been depicted by such avant-gardists as Ramon Casas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh.
In his version, Picasso rendered a vibrant and expressionistic frieze of diverse patrons comingling under the dance hall’s electric lights. Among other notable features, Picasso’s painting represents the gender fluidity present in fin-de-siecle Paris, and also foreshadows the social disenfranchisement of the working classes that he brought into sharper focus with his subsequent Blue Period (1901–04). The tragic suicide in Paris of Picasso’s close friend, the painter and poet Carles Casagemas, in February 1901, undeniably affected this year of artistic and personal evolution as well. All told, his time in Paris left a strong impression; Picasso would settle there in 1904.
Young Picasso in Paris is organized by Megan Fontanella, curator, Modern art and provenance. Julie Barten, senior painting conservator and associate director of conservation affairs, is leading the conservation research and treatment of Picasso’s Le Moulin de la Galette.
This exhibition is part of the Picasso Celebration 1973–2023 program, organized with the support of the Musee national Picasso, Paris.
Visit the website of the Guggenheim Museum and see its dedicated page for Young Picasso in Paris.