November 19, 2010

Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 Exhibition at the MoMA

Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 
MoMA, New York
February 13 - June 6, 2011

Pablo Picasso, Bottle, Guitar, and Pipe, 1912. Museum Folwang, Essen
PABLO PICASSO (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Bottle, Guitar, and Pipe. Paris, autumn 1912
Oil, enamel, sand, and charcoal on canvas
23 5/8 x 28 3/4" (60 x 73 cm)
Museum Folkwang, Essen.
Acquired in 1964 with the support of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia and Eugen-und-Agnes-Waldthausen-Platzhoff-Museums-Stiftung

Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 focus on Pablo Picasso’s cardboard and sheet-metal Guitar sculptures, and the incandescent period of material and structural innovation these sculptures bracket in the artist’s long career. The exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art’s Special Exhibitions gallery bringing together some 70 closely connected collages, constructions, drawings, mixed-media paintings, and photographs assembled from over 30 public and private collections worldwide. The exhibition situates Picasso’s modest yet revolutionary Guitars within his broader studio practice between 1912 and 1914.
The exhibition is organized by Anne Umland, Curator, with Blair Hartzell, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art. 
Pablo Picasso, Guitar, 1912. MoMA, New York
PABLO PICASSO (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Guitar. Paris, October-December 1912
Paperboard, paper, string, and painted wire
25 3/4 x 13 x 7 1/2" (65.1 x 33 x 19 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. Courtesy of MoMA

The exhibition takes as its point of departure Picasso’s first Guitar construction, a sculpture made between October and December 1912. Cobbled together from cardboard, paper, string, and wire—materials he cut, folded, threaded, and glued—Picasso’s silent instrument resembled no sculpture that had ever been seen before. Its creation coincided with Picasso’s embrace of a wide range of what were then unconventional materials, including cardboard, newspaper, wallpaper, sheet music, and sand. In 1914 the artist reiterated his fragile, papery Guitar construction in more fixed and durable sheet-metal form. In the early 1970s Picasso donated both works to The Museum of Modern Art.  

Photograph of Pablo Picasso's installation in the artist's studio in Paris. Private collection. Courtesy of MoMA
PABLO PICASSO (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Installation in the artist’s studio at 242, boulevard Raspail. Paris, December 9, 1912, or later
Gelatin silver print
3 3/8 x 4 1/2" (8.6 x 11.5 cm)
Private collection
Courtesy of MoMA

Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 was catalyzed by the recent rediscovery of a still-life element in MoMA’s storage that once accompanied the cardboard Guitar in one of the artist’s well-documented but ephemeral Cubist assemblages. From this carefully composed still life, first published in November 1913, Picasso had saved both the Guitar and the semi-circular “tabletop” on which it had rested. Prompted by the careful study of a photograph of the 1913 assemblage by art historian Christine Poggi, the “tabletop” was rediscovered in MoMA’s collection in 2005. To reunite the two pieces is to recognize the variable installations that were integral to the artist’s practice in the years before World War I, and to consider anew the distinct yet interrelated histories of two of his most iconic works. Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 is the first time that cardboard Guitar will be publicly exhibited with this distinctive tabletop element.

In February 2011 the publication Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914 will accompany the MoMA exhibition. Synthesizing archival material and eyewitness accounts, the richly illustrated volume offers new insights into Picasso’s Guitars and the constellation of paintings, constructions, collages, drawings, and photographs that surrounded them in the studio at this breakthrough moment in the artist’s career and in the history of 20th-century art. Hardcover, 8 x 10”. 112 pages; 120 illustrations. MoMA is also working on the development of an e-book to follow Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 that will draw upon the close examination of works assembled on the occasion of the exhibition.

The exhibition is supported by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NYC, USA
Special Exhibitions Gallery, Third Floor