“Picasso The Line” is installed chronologically. We get a bit of everything, from the artist’s early blue and rose periods (no color here, however — these are drawings) straight through an 80-year career. The presentation is restrained, even reverent.
As the exhibition brochure says, “It is hard to find a painting or sculpture by the Spanish artist that has not been cast from the die of drawing.”
In that light, a Picasso drawings-only exhibition makes sense, particularly if there hasn’t ever been one as laser-focused as the current show.
[Organizer's description:] Famous for pioneering Cubism in the early 1900s, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) was one of the most innovative and prolific artists of the 20th century. Picasso was a master across disciplines and one of the most accomplished draftsman in modern art. He pursued drawing assiduously throughout his career, and while his drawings have previously been the focus of important exhibitions, Picasso The Line explores the distinctiveness of Picasso’s line drawings and considers the essential position that these works hold within the artist’s oeuvre.
Settling in Paris in 1904, Picasso established himself as a prominent participant in avant-garde circles of that city, absorbing, transforming, and originating some of the most influential ideas of his time. By focusing on his use of line—“linealism” as described by the guest curator Carmen Giménez—the exhibition conveys Picasso’s attempts to resolve the three dimensions of form through linear means, thus relinquishing perspective.
Picasso The Line includes drawings from the most important periods of the artist’s long career; it gathers close to 100 of his works on paper that span a wide range of mediums, from pen or pencil to charcoal and collage. The exhibition presents work from public and private collections in the United States and Europe, several of which have never been exhibited in the United States and others are seldom-seen examples in the Menil Collection’s holdings. A beautifully printed, fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and examines Picasso’s use of the fundamental element of line in drawing as well as the role of his art in the Menil Collection.
The Menil is the organizer and sole venue for Picasso The Line.
Picasso The Line is curated by Carmen Giménez, guest curator, who was founding director of the Museo Picasso Málaga, and coordinated by David Breslin, John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Chief Curator, Menil Drawing Institute, and Menil Associate Curator Clare Elliott.