He’s one of the most popular and important artists of the 20th century, the rare figure whose name and work are recognizable to millions of people across the globe. No, I’m not talking about Walt Disney: I’m talking about Pablo Picasso.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art opened its doors on Sept. 5 to an exhibit of the internationally known artist’s work, titled “Picasso on Paper: Drawings and Prints From the Permanent Collection, (1899-1967),” showcasing artist spanning the artist’s lengthy and prolific career across a variety of media.
The exhibit contains everything from prints to drawings to posters that convey why Picasso remains one of art’s most influential and important artists above many others. Each piece represents the different motifs Picasso used in his art from his earliest pieces through his Blue Period, Rose Period and Cubist Period.
This allows the spectator the interesting opportunity to see up close how the man’s work evolved over his lengthy career across a variety of mediums.
I won’t claim to be a particularly knowledgeable art connoisseur, but a few pieces in particular I highly enjoyed and recommend seeing are “The Smoker” (1964) and “The Portrait of Josep Cardona” (1899).
“The Smoker” is a soft ground etching of a man’s roughly drawn face in bright colors against a white background. At first, the painting has the raw, simplistic look of something created by a child, but a closer look reveals the intricate shapes that combine to create the man’s facial expression.
I found this piece to be my favorite of the exhibit, due to the way the blues, greens, yellows and pinks combine to make the different facial muscles apparent and explode against the white background.
On the other end of the color spectrum, and from much earlier on in Picasso’s career, “The Portrait of Josep Cardona” (1899) is a Conte crayon drawing given to Josep Cardona as a gift from Picasso. This piece is a typical portrait-style work, but what drew me to this particular piece were the obvious angular influences in the face, shoulder and torso area that are a common attribute to Picasso’s oeuvre.
Overall, this is an exhibit that both appeals to the general public and the most serious art lovers. I mostly enjoyed the ability to see the different side of Picasso in a personal environment. Also, museum admission is free on Sundays, and there are plenty of other exhibits, including “Made in Hollywood: Photographs From the John Kobal Foundation,” to check out while you’re there.
If you’d like to know more about the exhibit and the work of Picasso, be sure to visit the museum on Oct. 7 for a lecture, “Picasso in Private: Fact and Fiction,” by the exhibit’s curator, UCSB professor Alfred Moir. The 3 p.m. lecture is free, and will be held in the museum’s Mary Craig Auditorium.
“Picasso on Paper” will run through Dec. 7, and tickets to the museum are $6 for students with a student ID. Check out www.sbma.net for more information.