A major exhibition bringing together 150 works by Picasso from across the world has opened at Tate Liverpool. Picasso: Peace and Freedom reveals a fascinating new insight into the artist’s life as a tireless political activist and campaigner for peace, challenging the widely-held view of the artist as creative genius, playboy and compulsive extrovert.
Displaying a vast collection of paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings and ceramics related to war and peace from 1944-1973, this is the first exhibition to examine in depth Picasso’s engagement in politics and with the Peace Movement. The exhibition also uses archive material to further explore Picasso’s work in the Cold War era, and how the artist transcended the ideological and aesthetic oppositions of East and West.
The centrepiece is The Charnel House 1944-45, Picasso’s most explicitly political painting since Guernica 1937, which was last seen in the UK 50 years ago. Monument to the Spaniards who Died for France late 1945 to 31 January 1947 features along with The Rape of the Sabine Women 1962, painted at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Picasso’s Dove of Peace became the emblem for the Peace Movement and universal symbol of hope during the Cold War. Picasso’s lithograph of the fan-tailed pigeon given to him by Matisse in 1948 was selected for the poster of the First International Peace Congress held in Paris in 1949. Picasso provided variations on the dove for Congresses in Wroclaw, Stockholm, Sheffield, Vienna, Rome and Moscow.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was arguably the most influential and prolific artist of the 20th century. After 1944 Picasso became a figurehead of left wing causes. He joined the Communist Party in 1944 and during this period that the political content of his work came to the fore. His paintings frequently reference key historical moments, chronicling human conflict and war, but also a desire for peace.
The exhibition is organised by Tate Liverpool in collaboration with the Albertina, Vienna where it will be presented 16 September 2010 – 16 January 2011 (Press View: 15 September 2010). The exhibition will then be displayed at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, 11 February 2011 – 29 May 2011.
Picasso: Peace and Freedom is curated by Professor Lynda Morris, AHRC Research Fellow and Curator, EASTinternational, Norwich University College of the Arts, and Dr. Christoph Grunenberg, Director, Tate Liverpool.