How Artists Across the Globe Are Saying ‘Yes’ to Picasso
“Picasso is not the greatest artist of our time,” says art historian Michael FitzGerald. “He’s not the one you have to take down—he’s someone to engage with as an equal.”
During much of Picasso’s lifetime, his works were regarded as the gold standard of modernist art. Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Arshile Gorky and other 20th-century artists channeled his style, while figures like Jackson Pollock competed with it directly. In an exhibition opening March 6 at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, FitzGerald showcases works by a diverse ensemble of international artists, who, rather than challenging Picasso’s art, have engaged in conversation with it.
Titled “Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions,” the show features sculptures, photographs, paintings, and video installations by more than 40 artists living in 12 different countries. Faith Ringgold, Armando Mariño, Dia Al-Azzawi, Goshka Macuga, and Tadanori Yokoo are among the artists represented in the exhibition. By recycling, repackaging, and riffing on Picasso’s internationally recognized works and trademark techniques, these artists have made raw material out of what was once a definitive touchstone.
Here is a sampling of artworks that will be on view in the show:
“Bembe,” by Romuald Hazoumé
Just as Picasso employed unconventional materials to create his collages, Hazoumé crafts masks like Bembe (2012) using discarded gasoline canisters. By repurposing these plastic containers—which are symbols of progress and development—to form objects styled after traditional African artifacts, the Benin-born artist comments on the blending of cultures taking place in modern-day Porto-Novo.
“Quel avenir pour notre art? (What future for our art?),” by Chéri Samba
Congolese artist Chéri Samba examines Picasso’s legacy in this 1997 triptych. In the first scene (below), Samba replicated a 1952 photograph of Picasso by Robert Doisneau on the left side of the painting, and executed a portrait of himself on the right side. Unlike Doisneau’s original image, in which the artist’s hands are under the table and out of sight, Picasso’s right hand is seen here holding a pencil. He looks to his left toward Samba, who is situated at a table with a wooden log, a ceramic pot, and two wooden masks. As the work’s title suggests, it is unclear how these artifacts will factor into the future of art.
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