Picasso in Black and White

There's good stuff here, but did we really need another round of the master's work?

An earlier painting of Maar in the show lacks the grotesquerie of the latter. They are both good works, but Picasso's depictions of the women in his life changed as the relationships grew stale for him. He's quoted as saying, "It must be painful for a girl to see in a painting that she is on the way out."

I'm not going to argue that Picasso's work is not valid because he was an asshole. Think of all the cultural production you'd have to chuck to the curb if the decency of the creator was the criterion for success. But glossing over abusive behavior because someone is so talented is what creates monsters; it happens in art, in sports, in entertainment and a host of other fields.

I understand that curators may not want to delve into the personal dirty laundry of an artist with every show, but Picasso's misogyny was well known. "Victim" seems like it would be a more accurate term than "Muse" for many of Picasso's women. Picasso would dump Maar for Gilot during the occupation. The wall text under the heading "The War Year" talks about the arrest, deportation and death of Picasso's friends as well as his painting The Charnel House. It ends with "However, Picasso also found solace during these years. In 1943, he met the artist Françoise Gilot..." Do we really need to perpetuate the antiquated cliché of the great man inspired by the lesser, subservient woman, her only function as an object of inspiration/doormat? I would hope most of us would know better today. We can't change history, but we can certainly change how we talk about it.

Pablo Picasso's The Milliner's Workshop stands out for its dense and beautiful composition.
Musée national d'art moderne / Centre de création industrielle, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Pablo Picasso's The Milliner's Workshop stands out for its dense and beautiful composition.

Location Info


Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston

1001 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77004

Category: Museums

Region: Kirby-West U


"Picasso Black and White"

Through May 27.

As for the astronomical effort and expense associated with any Picasso show, is it really justified? How much longer will Picasso and his like disproportionately consume so much wall space and so many resources? Ultimately, I was glad to see most of the work in "Picasso Black and White." But I would have been gladder to see the scores of other exhibitions of lesser-known artists that could have been put on with the same amount of money.

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