Picasso: Writing into Drawing opening at Moderna Galerija

Ljubljana – An exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s illustrations termed Picasso: Writing into Drawing was due to open Thursday at Moderna Galerija, the national museum of modern and contemporary art, to mark the 140th anniversary of the birth of the great artist. The opening has however been postponed due to significant flood damage the gallery suffered yesterday.

Once open, the exhibition will bring almost 260 illustrations Picasso made in mid-20th century, all of them coming to Ljubljana from a private collection in Italy.

Visitors will be able to see prints for illustrations of 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 says the illustrations on display show 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 their high quality and his personal stamp in experimenting.

The museum points to the illustrations of three books – Song of the Dead, 20 Poems and Chronicle of Heroic Times, saying they shift one’s perspective of Picasso’s work because they are not necessarily immediately seen as Picasso’s most typical examples of printmaking.

The exhibition, curated by Marko Jenko, is accompanied by a catalogue and closes on 9 January. Its honorary sponsor is the Spanish Embassy in Ljubljana.

Jenko has told the STA 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. Jenko thus came into contact with the works of Picasso the two own through the works of the Slovenian artist.