Ljubljana – An exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s illustrations termed Picasso: Writing into Drawing, marking the 140th anniversary of the birth of the great artist, will open at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM) this evening, bringing almost 260 mid-20th century illustrations from a private collection in Italy.
The exhibition was originally scheduled to open at Moderna Galerija, the national museum of modern and contemporary art, on 30 September, but was postponed due to significant flood damage the gallery suffered on the day before.
It will feature prints of illustrations for Max Jacob’s Chronicle of Heroic Times, Pierre Reverdy’s Song of the Dead, 20 Poems by Luis de Gongora, Count de Buffon’s Natural History, Prosper Merimee’s Carmen, Fernand Crommelynck’s The Magnificent Cuckold, and for Picasso’s own illustrated book Le Carmen des Carmen.
The museum said the illustrations on display showed how Picasso approached illustration of different literary genres or the illustrated book, which can slowly transform into an artist’s book.
This is especially so for handwriting, which sometimes “spills over” directly into drawing or painting and consequently further away from the usual understanding of illustration.
“Picasso’s prints are one of the hallmarks of his inexhaustible artistic research. He was constantly occupied by printmaking: from his first experiences with etching, dating back to 1899, and all the way to his death in 1973.”
The extensive body of his prints covers all the techniques of artistic reproduction (etching, dry-point, engraving, woodcut, lithography, linocut), with the prints usually proving groundbreaking due to high quality and personal stamp in experimenting.
Illustrations of three books – Song of the Dead, 20 Poems and Chronicle of Heroic Times – shift one’s perspective of Picasso’s work because they are not necessarily immediately seen as Picasso’s most typical examples of printmaking, the museum said.
The exhibition, curated by Marko Jenko and sponsored by the Spanish Embassy in Ljubljana, is accompanied by a catalogue.
Jenko has told the STA that the private collection is owned by two sisters who had been old acquaintances of the late Slovenian painter Zoran Mušič (1909-2005) and are admirers of his work.