Picasso beneath the signal of El Greco in Basel

If we all know Picasso’s hyperlinks (1881-1973) together with his illustrious ancestor Velasquez and the opposite illustrious Goya, then again, the relations of the creator of the Franco-Spanish genius with the Greco-Spanish painter Domenikos Theodokopoulos, often known as El Greco (1541-1614), are a lot worse acquainted. It’s to the nice credit score of the curators Carmen Gimenez with Gabriel Dette and Josef Helfenstein with Ana Mingot that they’ve created an distinctive Picasso-El Greco exhibition on the Kunstmuseum in Basel, which is able to run till September 25.

Picasso was not solely within the undisputed grasp of Toledo, however he devoted himself to it for a protracted interval, as illustrated testimonies attest, starting with a “Portrait of a Man”, after El Greco painted when Picasso was eighteen years previous. This very spectacular oil on canvas faces Saint Jerome of 1610, every together with his beard, however Picasso’s husband is younger with a black beard, whereas El Greco’s is previous with a protracted white beard. It’s subsequently not solely applicable to rehabilitate Greco, usually unloved for his model, which is carefully associated to icon artwork, and his predilection for topics from the Gospels.

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In her speech on the press convention, Paloma Picasso, daughter of the painter and Françoise Gilot, revealed a component of the household context:

“Greco and Le Douanier Rousseau have been like grandfathers. They have been characters who inhabited our lives between actuality, creation, creativeness. It was one world. †

DH Kahnweiler, whose stunning 1957 portrait is offered within the exhibition, introduced again an important phrase from Picasso about El Greco:

“What I actually like about him are his portraits, his gents with pointed beards. Work of saints, the Trinity, the Virgin, it is Italy, it is ornamental. Whereas the portraits! That is additionally the explanation why I desire the Germans over the Italians. A minimum of they have been reasonable” (see Pierre Cabanne, “The Century of Picasso”, T.3, Gallimard, Folio Essays, 1992, p. 384).

We’re not allowed to share Picasso’s opinion, that’s not the purpose right here, what he says then again is essential to us, as a result of Picasso considers Greco above all to be a terrific portraitist, in any other case he would have been impressed by him?

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The commissioners positioned subsequent to Kahnweiler’s portrait El Greco’s “Saint Joseph”, dated 1577-1580. The whole exhibition is constructed as an incessant dialogue between the 2 painters and the spiritual work are not any exception.

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Let’s check out a few of the confrontations that this exhibition affords: “The Adoration of the Title of Jesus” (1577-79) with an oil on canvas from 1901, “Evocation (The Burial of Casagemas)”, by which your entire high of the portray represents a dreamy, eschatological scene, shrouded in thriller. El Greco’s portray is a part of his nice compositions akin to “The Burial of the Rely of Orgaz”, the place the higher a part of the canvas is the magical and eschatological evocation of the arrival of the deceased in paradise. Then the portrait of “Madame Canals (Benedetta Bianco)”, from 1905, offered reverse the “Girl in a Fur (or portrait of Catherine-Michelle of Austria, 1580-88)”, is attributed “formal” at Greco.

However we particularly wish to concentrate on the confrontation between “The Holy Household” (1600) and Picasso’s oil on canvas, “Man, Lady and Little one” (1906), the place the characters appear equally impressed by the unspeakable thriller of motherhood , the place the daddy, barely behind, casts a glance filled with marvel or amazement at mom and youngster in each works.

The confrontations take a brand new flip with the looks on the chessboard of Cubist portray. For instance, the curators in contrast the “Sitting Nude” of 1909-10 and “Lady Sitting in an Armchair” with two related inhabited variations of Penitent Magdeleine of 1576 and 1580, lavish canvases dominated by blue within the eyes of which Greco had the key. These works are adopted by a juxtaposition of the elegant “Saint Bartholomew” holding the satan on a sequence with the 1911 portray “The Poet”, the place the identical gradation of brown, grey and lightweight has one thing fascinating.

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the timeless one

The catalog affords new views on these two painters, who additionally shared the truth that they’d left their native lands to decide on a brand new nation as their creative homeland. Two chapters particularly caught our consideration, that of Carmen Giménez on the key dialogue that their works convey by placing into perspective “The Two Sisters”, a well-known portray from the Blue Interval (1902) with “The Visitation”, and that of Richard Schiff, exploring an unsuspected relationship between the 2 painters via the prism of “magic”, which is equally written in German. The chapter opens with a element from the portray “The Visitation” (1609-1613), one in every of El Greco’s most fascinating work, by which he transforms the encounter between the feminine-looking angel and Mary, each adorned with a lavish turquoise curtain. It is extremely uncommon for a German talking artwork historian to know Malraux’s work, however his data of “The Obsidian Head” is profound and in doing so he deepens Picasso’s view of fetishes, as Malraux analyzes it in his 1974 e-book devoted a largely in his encounters with the artist till 1945 and within the posthumous go to he made to Vauvenargues and Mougins in 1973, on the invitation of Jacqueline, shortly after the demise of the Minotaur.

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Richard Schiff searches for the key hyperlink that hyperlinks sure work by El Greco, shrouded in thriller and transcendence, to the works of Picasso. Just isn’t the African fetish a mediator on the planet of the ancestors, that of the Transcendental?

I undertake the highly effective passage that Malraux quotes from his dialog with Picasso:

‘The masks, they weren’t sculptures just like the others. Not likely. They have been magical issues. […] The negroes, they have been intercessors, I do know the phrase in French ever since. towards every little thing; towards unknown, menacing spirits. I all the time seemed on the fetishes. I understood: I too am towards every little thing. (“The Obsidian Head, Gallimard,” 1974, p. 18).

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For Greco, the transcendent, the mysticism of varieties, of orthodox icons, for Picasso most probably the position of masks, the fetish, that component that belongs to magic.

The exhibition in Basel exhibits us Greco and Picasso as nice intercessors of artwork, of the sacred, of the transcendent and of what Malraux referred to as the timeless.

Picasso-El Greco, on the Basel Artwork Museum. Till Sept 25. Data: kunstmuseumbasel.ch/fr/exhibitions/2022/picasso-elgreco

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