OPEN TODAY UNTIL 20:00

Picasso and Antiquity
Line and clay

DEVINE DIALOGUES

JUNE 20 UNTIL OKTOBER 20, 2019

THE EXHIBITION

Sixty-eight rare ceramics and drawings by Picasso, featuring birds, animals, sea creatures, humans, and mythological beasts (centaurs, the Minotaur) or inspired by ancient drama and comedies, conversed thematically for the first time with sixty-seven ancient works, creating another Divine Dialogue between Greek antiquity and modern art.

Unlike his unique paintings, the great twentieth-century artist’s drawings and ceramics are little known to the wider public. These are closely related to antiquity, inspired by the Creto-Mycenaean, Greek, and ancient Mediterranean civilizations in general. This exhibition revealed a world the artist carried within himself, showcasing antiquities that he might have seen in the ancient lands of the Mediterranean, but also in European museums, in the books he read, or during his encounters with Christian Zervos and Jean Cocteau.

Throughout his long and productive career, Picasso consulted a wide variety of sources, adapting and transforming them relentlessly. The Classical tradition provided the Spanish master with a vocabulary of endless possibilities to be manipulated and modified. Prominent among these sources was ancient Greece, for it created an enduring mythology as well as a fertile iconography. From the time he copied antique plaster casts in his youth, Picasso was seduced by many themes derived from Greek mythology, drawn by their amplification of the mundane or their persistent aspiration to highlight humanity’s conflicting impulses. The Minotaur, for example, this Dionysian creature, half-beast, half-human, symbolized the dark regions of the psyche, becoming a telling symbol of the irrational forces of war.

Another, more benign vision of Greece emerged as well, one in which the ancient themes and stories lead to an idealized vision, a timeless Arcadia, which Picasso developed in sculptures and ceramics after World War II. Yet, these works, unlike some earlier ones, are devoid of weighty associations with Greek myth. Rather, Picasso invented a fictitious or imagined antiquity. In the small village of Vallauris in the late 1940s and 1950s, he developed an extraordinary body of ceramics, objects that give us a vague idea of a mythical past, imbued with timeless and relevant imagery in the form of fauns, birds, musicians, etc.

The element that binds both ceramics, old and new, and Picasso’s illustrations derived from the antique (the Three Graces or Aristophanes’s Lysistrata) has to do with form and design, and not just iconography. Of particular relevance is the line, whether in drawings from the 1920s and 1930s or the lines traced on ceramics and reminiscent of Attic Red Figure vases, for example. Picasso and Antiquity | Line and clay exhibition demonstrated the force of Picasso’s both imaginary and personal reading of antiquity, and the lasting spell that objects from the past cast on us.

THE ARTIST

Unlike his unique paintings, the great twentieth-century artist’s drawings and ceramics are little known to the wider public. These are closely related to antiquity, inspired by the Creto-Mycenaean, Greek, and ancient Mediterranean civilizations in general. This exhibition revealed a world the artist carried within himself, showcasing antiquities that he might have seen in the ancient lands of the Mediterranean, but also in European museums, in the books he read, or during his encounters with Christian Zervos and Jean Cocteau. Throughout his long and productive career, Picasso consulted a wide variety of sources, adapting and transforming them relentlessly.

The Classical tradition provided the Spanish master with a vocabulary of endless possibilities to be manipulated and modified. Prominent among these sources was ancient Greece, for it created an enduring mythology as well as a fertile iconography. From the time he copied antique plaster casts in his youth, Picasso was seduced by many themes derived from Greek mythology, drawn by their amplification of the mundane or their persistent aspiration to highlight humanity’s conflicting impulses.

The Minotaur, for example, this Dionysian creature, half-beast, half-human, symbolized the dark regions of the psyche, becoming a telling symbol of the irrational forces of war. Another, more benign vision of Greece emerged as well, one in which the ancient themes and stories lead to an idealized vision, a timeless Arcadia, which Picasso developed in sculptures and ceramics after World War II. Yet, these works, unlike some earlier ones, are devoid of weighty associations with Greek myth. Rather, Picasso invented a fictitious or imagined antiquity. In the small village of Vallauris in the late 1940s and 1950s, he developed an extraordinary body of ceramics, objects that give us a vague idea of a mythical past, imbued with timeless and relevant imagery in the form of fauns, birds, musicians, etc.

The element that binds both ceramics, old and new, and Picasso’s illustrations derived from the antique (the Three Graces or Aristophanes’s Lysistrata) has to do with form and design, and not just iconography. Of particular relevance is the line, whether in drawings from the 1920s and 1930s or the lines traced on ceramics and reminiscent of Attic Red Figure vases, for example. Picasso and Antiquity | Line and clay exhibition demonstrated the force of Picasso’s both imaginary and personal reading of antiquity, and the lasting spell that objects from the past cast on us.

To me there is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of the [ancient] Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was.
M. de Zayas, Picasso speaks, The Arts, 5, May 1923, 319

THE INSTALLATION

01
woman with the blue dress, Vallauris, 1947 – 1948, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte. On temporary loan to the Museo Picasso, Malaga
© Succession Picasso 2019
02
clay “Teapot”, Vasiliki, near lerapetra, c. 2400 – 2500 BC / Bird, Vallauris, 1947 – 1948, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte. On temporary loan to the Museo Picasso, Malaga
© Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Archaeological Museum of Herakleion © Succession Picasso 2019
03
The Owl, Vallauris, 1952, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte. On temporary loan to the Museo Picasso, Malaga
© Succession Picasso 2019
04
Silenus in the company of dancers, Cannes, 1933, Gouache and ink on paper, Staatliche Musee zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Museum Berggruen
© bpk/ Nationalgalerie, SMB, Museum Berggruen/ Jens Ziehe © Succession Picasso 2019
05
standing woman, Vallauris, 1947, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte / Clay female figurine, Mycenaean cemetary at Tanagra, 14th century BC, Archaeological Museum of Thebes,
© Succession Picasso 2019 / © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia
06
Clay female figurine, Allegedly from Amari c. 1400-1500 BC, Clay female figurine, Gortyn, rural villa at Kannia, c. 1750 – 1600 BC
© Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Archaeological Museum of Thebes © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Archaeological Museum of Herakleion/ Pablo Picasso, The King Athens, Private Collection
07
woman, Vallauris, 1949, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte/ Marble Statuette of Aphrodite. Ancient Agora of Athens, mid-3rd century AD
© Succession Picasso 2019 / © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens – Museum of Ancient Agora
01
woman with the blue dress, Vallauris, 1947 – 1948, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte. On temporary loan to the Museo Picasso, Malaga
© Succession Picasso 2019
02
clay “Teapot”, Vasiliki, near lerapetra, c. 2400 – 2500 BC / Bird, Vallauris, 1947 – 1948, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte. On temporary loan to the Museo Picasso, Malaga
© Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Archaeological Museum of Herakleion © Succession Picasso 2019
03
The Owl, Vallauris, 1952, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte. On temporary loan to the Museo Picasso, Malaga
© Succession Picasso 2019
04
Silenus in the company of dancers, Cannes, 1933, Gouache and ink on paper, Staatliche Musee zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Museum Berggruen
© bpk/ Nationalgalerie, SMB, Museum Berggruen/ Jens Ziehe © Succession Picasso 2019
05
standing woman, Vallauris, 1947, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte / Clay female figurine, Mycenaean cemetary at Tanagra, 14th century BC, Archaeological Museum of Thebes,
© Succession Picasso 2019 / © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia
06
Clay female figurine, Allegedly from Amari c. 1400-1500 BC, Clay female figurine, Gortyn, rural villa at Kannia, c. 1750 – 1600 BC
© Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Archaeological Museum of Thebes © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Archaeological Museum of Herakleion/ Pablo Picasso, The King Athens, Private Collection
07
woman, Vallauris, 1949, Madrid, Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz – Picasso para el Arte/ Marble Statuette of Aphrodite. Ancient Agora of Athens, mid-3rd century AD
© Succession Picasso 2019 / © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/ Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens – Museum of Ancient Agora

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE

BUY

The exhibition was accompanied by a Catalogue that issued as part of the series of art exhibitions “Divine Dialogues” for the exhibition “Picasso and Antiquity. Line and Clay” with analytical explanatory texts and copious illustrations.

Curated by

Professor Nikolaos Chr. Stampolidis, Olivier Berggruen

Assistant Curator

Anunciata Liechtenstein

Exhibition Design

AKA Apostolou Colakis architects

Mounting of Artworks

Christos Stefanidis, Dimitris Lafazanos, Irini Panagioti

Exhibition Constructions

Manos Lignos & Co

Picasso Artworks Condition Reports

Athens Art Conservation Studio (Adia Adamopoulou)

Translations

Dr Maria Xanthopoulou

Visual Identity

Bend

Artworks Transportation

Orphée Beinoglou S.A.

Insurance

Eurolife

Sponsors

Contships Management Inc., Cycladic Art Foundation, Ballian Techniki S.A.

Official Air Carrier Sponsor

Aegean

Hospitality Sponsor

Grand Hyatt

Legal Advisor

Moratis Passas Law Firm