Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE
Pablo Picasso was a very prolific artist.
Recently, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, I not only saw startling Cubist paintings by Picasso, such as “Woman with a Book” and “The Ram’s Head”, but also what the museum calls the first Cubist sculpture — Picasso’s “Head of Fernande”.
Two memorable Picasso exhibitions I attended on the East Coast were large-scale retrospectives — “Picasso and the Weeping Women” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and “Picasso The Early Years” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
Right now, though, is a prime time to experience Picasso in Fort Collins.
The current exhibition at the Museum of Art Fort Collins is “Picasso as Printmaker: A Collector’s Perspective, The Baller Art Collection”, now through February 5, 2023. It is a rich and informative experience.
First, of course, there’s the art and this collection comes from throughout Picasso’s long career. That means that there isn’t just one style here, there are many.
Yes, there are Cubist pieces — the usual lines of form and perception blown out of proportion — but there are also more realistic pieces as well as some whimsy.
There’s some bawdy, sexy stuff here, but also loving portraits of children. Some prints have colors blasting off the page and some have deep brown hues, rich and earthy. There are disjointed images and others with flowing curves. Some pieces are made with dark, bold strokes and others with fine-lined etching.
My favorite piece in the show is “Maternal Joy”, depicting Olga Picasso and son Paulo — it is a warm and personal work. But then again, I was drawn to the wildness of Picasso’s fascination with mythological creatures like fauns and centaurs.
Maybe that’s why he was one of the most revered artists of the 20th Century: Picasso did it all. He applied his creative mind to numerous processes and viewpoints. The result is a broad body of work that cannot be pinned down to one defining thing. It’s everything.
But Picasso isn’t alone in the galleries at MoA. The collector of these pieces — Robert Baller, a retired eye surgeon — adds placards explaining the significance of the prints and some extensive history about Picasso himself. Baller became a Picasso art expert by educating himself and his knowledge adds a great deal of weight to this exhibition.
To boot, there are displays of various print-making tools, on loan from the CSU Printmaking Department. Also, there are some poignant Picasso quotes. My favorite: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”.
If so inspired, you can also visit the “Cozy Cubist” room across the hall from the main gallery, featuring art supplies for a do-it-yourself art experience based on Picasso’s work.
All of this together makes “Picasso as Printmaker” a trip worth taking. There’s plenty to see and learn.
Also currently at MoA Fort Collins: “Posters from 50 Fabulous Years of Open Stage Theatre & Company”, through February 5. Coming up: the 19th annual “Masks Fundraiser and Exhibition”, opening March 3.
MoA has also rolled out a new mobile app — Art Central –to connect “art, artists and community through curated tours, stories and easy navigation”. Check their site at moafc.org for full info.
Loveland art: New at the Loveland Museum is “John Mellencamp: Painting and Assemblages”, through February 12, 2023. Opening on December 9: “The Lost Rock and Roll Negatives of Michael Friedman”, through January 29.
Check out “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.