Picasso is arguably one of the most prolific as well as eclectic artists that we've ever known. The number of different painting styles that he attempted are as vast as they are varied in nature. The exhibition is laid out to follow Picasso's painting periods or styles chronologically, traversing through the Blue and Rose periods, African influences, Cubism, Classicism, Surrealism, War Years, and his last works prior to his death.
Like many other artists, Picasso reflected his feelings for war through his art. During the war years which spanned the Spanish Civil War, World War II and the Korean War, his work became darker and more intense. The traditional "still life painting" usually consisted of innocuous objects such as fruit, bowls or pitchers. Picasso's take on still life included skulls and skeletons. His painting Massacre in Korea, depicting the atrocities of the Korean War was inspired by Francisco de Goya's painting Massacre 3rd of May (1808) showing an execution during the Napoleonic Wars.
Picasso created many self portraits during his career and it is interesting to compare some of the ones in the show and reflect on what was happening in his life when they were created. An early 1906 rendering done during his Rose period seems surprisingly clumsy and amateurish considering that Picasso had demonstrated he could paint with "photographic realism". The audio guide postulated that Picasso was actually trying to simulate early primitive Iberian sculptures with the deep set eyes and big ears. In "The Shadow" (1953), Picasso is lamenting the end of his relationship with Françoise Gilot. She is painted as alluring and vibrant reclining beauty, while he is an old withered shadow.
"The Matador" (1970) which he created shortly before his death shows how he wanted to see himself, still virile and masculine as depicted by the cigar and the sword. He was the fearless warrior confronting all challenges. Finally one of his last paintings done in 1972 retrospectively shows himself as a young, innocent artist again, full of boyish enthusiasm.
The set of artwork in this show shed light onto Picasso the artist and the man. It was great to finally be able to see it, and not even have to travel back to Paris to do so.