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The Exhibition on Screen strand makes one of its occasional forays into the 20th century with this account of the early years of one of modernism’s founding fathers. Filmed with the elegance and economy that we have come to expect from EiS, this travels in Picasso’s footsteps from Málaga to Paris via Barcelona and Madrid, accompanied by the usual variety of curatorial talking heads – with the bonus of Picasso’s grandson Olivier, who charmingly refers to him as “Pablo” throughout.
Even with the relatively short time-span this film covers – it finishes with the 1907 proto-cubist painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon – there’s a lot to get through, including the precocious juvenilia and the blue and rose periods, as well as Picasso’s tumultuous personal life.
It’s fascinating to see the loosening of the straits as Picasso moved from traditional figure painting, with its formal compositions, to freer, more radical work with colour and form. You can almost see the Victorian era disintegrating in real time.
The film enumerates his influences, from Ingres to Gaugin to African tribal masks, though I’d have liked a little more about the pre-Christian Iberian sculpture that played its part in forming Picasso’s style. But there’s plenty to chew on here, including the spectacular death of his friend Carlos Casagemas, who shot himself in a Paris restaurant in 1901.
Source: The Guardian
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