The Great Draftsman Picasso's Drawings on Display


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Includes virtuoso classical works of the early 1920s.

Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) is generally acknowledged to be the greatest draftsman of the Twentieth Century. The Frick Collection, New York, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., have co-organized an exhibition for 2011–12 that will look at the dazzling development of Picasso's drawings, from the precocious academic exercises of his youth in the 1890s to the virtuoso classical works of the early 1920s.

Through a selection of more than fifty works at each venue, the presentation will examine the artist's stylistic experiments and techniques in this roughly thirty-year period, which begins and ends in a classical mode and encompasses the radical innovations of cubism and collage. The show, which  moves on to the National Gallery of Art,  demonstrates how drawing served as an essential means of invention and discovery in Picasso's multifaceted art, while its centrality in his vast oeuvre connects him deeply with the grand tradition of European masters.

Head of a Woman, summer 1921  by Pablo PicassoIndeed, the exhibition will bring to the fore his complex engagement with artists of the near and distant past and will explore the diverse ways he competed with the virtuoso techniques of his predecessors and perpetuated them in revitalized form. Picasso's Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition features loans from important public and private collections in Europe and the United States and is accompanied by a full-color catalogue of the same name.

It has been organized by Susan Grace Galassi, Senior Curator, The Frick Collection, and Marilyn McCully, Picasso expert, in conjunction with Andrew Robison, Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Art.

Comments Galassi, "Over the past decade several exhibitions organized both in the United States and abroad have explored Picasso's art in relation to Western and non-Western traditions. The show focuses on this fundamental aspect of his work, specifically in relation to his drawings, where his interaction with artists of the past often first emerged. Our project aims to take a fresh look at Picasso's drawing practice from his early training to maturity."

Major funding for the presentation in New York is provided by Bill and Donna Acquavella, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the late Melvin R. Seiden.

Additional support is generously provided by Walter and Vera Eberstadt, Agnes Gund, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the Thaw Charitable Trust, Mr. and Mrs. Julio Mario Santo Domingo, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The exhibition is also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The accompanying cataloge has been underwritten by the Center for Spain in America and The Christian Humann Foundation.


Visit your local library to learn more about Picasso:

Picasso's drawings, 1890-1921 : reinventing tradition
Susan Grace Galassi, Marilyn McCully, (2011).
Exhibition catalogue.

The success and failure of Picasso
John Berger, (1989).

Picasso, birth of a genius
Juan Eduardo Cirlot, (1972).

Picasso's Guernica: the end of a Spanish era
Eugenio Fernández Granell,, (1981).

The Picasso papers.
Rosalind E. Krauss, (1999).

The visual grammar of Pablo Picasso
Enrique Mallén, (2003).

Picasso: the real family story
Olivier Widmaier Picasso, (2004).

Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective
William Rubin, (1981).

Great French paintings from the Barnes Foundation: Impressionist, Post-impressionist, and Early Modern.
Richard J. Wattenmaker, (1993).

The world of Picasso (1881– )
Lael Tucker Wertenbaker, (1967).


Images subject to copyright:

© 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image Credits:

Pierrot and Harlequin, 1920
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Pen and black ink with gouache on cream paper
10 3/4 x 8 3/8 inches
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman, 1981.41.2.a
© 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Head of a Woman, summer 1921
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Pastel on paper
25 x 18 7/8 inches
Fondation Beyeler, Basel (Inv.89.7)
Photo credit: Peter Schibli, Basel
© 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Creative Commons License


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