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Monday, December 3, 2012

Manhattan's Guggenheim in Black and White

If you've never walked through the Guggeheim Museum, now is the time to do it.  Currently through January 23, the museum is showcasing an exquisite Pablo Picasso show: "Picasso Black and White".  With over 100 works spanning the decades of 1904 to 1971 in either sculpture, painting or studies, this body of work is what Picasso is all about.  The exhibit tells the story of his life in black and white, early times of love, days in Provence, love betrayals and muses, French occupation in the 1940s, reconstruction of the 1950s, and old age after.

Bust of a Woman (Marie-Therese, 1931)
What is striking is how much his muses affected his work.  Marie-Therese seems to be the highlight of this show as you watch her evolve from young girl without any power or control into a woman who took his work on a detoured path.  I enjoyed reading about the collaborations Picasso had with musicians, choreographers etc in the 1920s and early 30s.  

Two Women (1907-08)
Olga in a Fur Collar (1920)
Milliners Workshop (1926)
The period of Holocaust is striking and terrifying to see.  Death and destruction consume and dictate a somber mood in the work that is widely overlooked.   And it seems as you walk through the exhibit that perhaps Picasso never gets over what he'd seen in France, the Spanish Civil War Guernica and visions of the Holocaust victims from the Nazi genocide.

The Charnel House (1944)
Cat and Rooster (1953)
Sylvette (1954)
But going to the Guggenheim is more than what is housed inside.  Sometimes beauty does conquer all.  Sometimes you can tell a book by its cover.  Sometimes the outside can be more important than what's on the inside.  Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1943, the Guggenheim is one of the world's most revered museums, but it also is recognized as a work of art in and of itself.  Wright was not able to see the completion of the building before his death.  

The ongoing question when you visit the Guggenheim is whether to start at the bottom and walk up or start at the top and walk down.  This show moves chronologically from the bottom up.  I would love to re-visit and start at the top.  Would it be more uplifting to see a young man's love of beauty as you head out the door into the beautiful and breezy Manhattan?


claire stracke said...

Your pictures are a symphony that crescendoes at the exterior arc of the museum. Nice facelift, Guggenheim.

SB said...

Great post! Love Picasso and hope to see the exhibit before Jan 23!