Exhibition Website Highlights Picasso’s Artistic Inspirations

Picasso Exhibition Site

In conjunction with Picasso Black and White, the Guggenheim has produced a special exhibition site featuring a selection of 22 artworks from the exhibition. Many are presented alongside works Picasso drew inspiration from, with corresponding essays that detail his practice of looking back into art history, in perhaps an effort to establish his own indelible place within it.

View Picasso's connection to old masters such as Francisco de Goya and Diego Velázquez, as evidenced in Mother with Dead Child II, Postscript to Guernica (Femme avec enfant mort II, Post-scriptum à Guernica) (1937) and The Maids of Honor (Las Meninas, after Velázquez) (1957). The latter is part of a large series of 58 paintings Picasso made in 1957, 44 of which were directly inspired by Velázquez’s masterpiece Las meninas (ca. 1656). For The Charnel House (Le charnier) (1944–445), see how Picasso emulated the macabre and disturbing scenes found in Goya’s work Ravages of War (Estragos de la guerra) (1810–1812), creating brutal imagery in an unprecedented way.

Along with the old masters, the exhibition site also explores how Picasso acquired prehistoric fertility idols and goddesses, such as the Venus of Lespugue (ca. 23,000 BCE). These objects clearly influenced Woman with Vase (Femme au vase) (1933), a formidable sculpture that is currently on view in the museum’s rotunda. Based on the physiognomy of Marie-Thérèse Walter, a young woman he met in 1927 and who became his mistress and mother to his first daughter, the figure reflects Picasso’s lifelong interest in his native country’s ancient civilizations and is one of the most significant works that the artist ever produced.

Throughout the site, exhibition curator Carmen Gimenez and Karole Vail, Associate Curator, offer historical context and further insight in excerpts from the museum audio tour. In addition, a teacher resource unit features specific Picasso works grouped together by theme, including, “Blue Period,” “Cubism,” and “Inspiration,” which details Picasso’s fascination with Las meninas. The unit also includes biographical information, suggested discussion questions, and follow-up activities.


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