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Updated: January 19, 2010 18:58 IST

Showcasing Picasso’s masterpieces

Madhur Tankha
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On display: A portrait by Pablo Picasso
On display: A portrait by Pablo Picasso

Instituto Cervantes is hosting an exhibition of famous works by renowned artist Pablo Picasso at its Hanuman Road premises here.

The ongoing exhibition by one of Spain’s most famous artists of the 20th Century -- known for producing a series of exquisite masterpieces that have been immortalised for posterity -- showcases his nudes, portraiture and mythology. The topics, style and technique of his works offer a glimpse into the artist’s creative universe of the 1930s when he was at the height of his artistic production.

‘Vollard Suite’

The series of engravings known as “Vollard Suite” is the result of a collaboration between Pablo Picasso and Ambroise Vollard, a close friend and fervent admirer of the Malaga-born painter. All of Picasso’s influences are represented in the series. The engravings highlight classicism and abstraction, tranquillity and chaos.

The Vollard Suite is one of the most important historic and artistic testimonies from the first half of the 20th Century.

According to Instituto Cervantes president Carmen Caffarel Serra, few Spanish artists are as unanimously and internationally acclaimed as Pablo Picasso. “His stature is comparable to that of geniuses like Michelangelo, Velazquez or Goya who changed the course of art history. The emergence of cubism, which did away with the traditional conception of perspective, allowed for a form of art that moved away from traditional painting, leading to avant-garde creation,” he adds.

By a commission of the art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard, Pablo Picasso created 100 copper engravings between September 13, 1930 and March 1937, which have now become art history and are known as the Vollard Suite.

The Vollard Suite comprised a variety of themes and has no precise chronological order.

The artist deployed several techniques to produce etching, aquatint, wash and even a combination of these.

The set of 100 engravings appeared in 1939 in two formats. While the larger format (760 mm x 500 mm) is on vellum paper signed by the artist in red or black pencil, with 50 copies per plate, the other smaller one (445 mm x 340 mm) has been done on Montval laid paper with the “Vollard” or “Picasso” watermark in print runs of 250 copies.

Varied themes

The latter, the smaller format, is nowadays very dispersed as loose plates in different private or public collections and only some of these collections remain intact. The complicated story of the origin of this work, its varied themes and technical diversity, in which the most varied creative styles were used (chiselling, etching, aquatint, wash drawing and dry point, and even combinations of these styles), has led to its dispersion and at present there are very few complete collections.

The complete series includes three portraits of Ambroise Vollard, five plates referred to as “The battle of love” – also called “The Rape” – which were created in 1933, forty-six plates about “The Sculptor’s Studio” (40 of them engraved from March 20 to May 5, 1933, and six between January and March 1934).

The exhibition at the Spanish Official Language and Cultural Centre is open up to January 24.



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