In a large special exhibition, the Kunstmuseum Basel illuminates the encounter of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) with the old master El Greco (1541– 1614), born Doménikos Theotokópoulos in Crete. Masterworks by both artists are juxtaposed in some forty pairings, tracing the course of one of the most fascinating dialogues in the history of art. Prestigious loans from across the globe are assembled around a core of Picasso masterworks from the museum’s own collection.
The exhibition Picasso El Greco is divided into five sections: Elective Affinities: Picasso and El Greco, Blue and Rose Periods: ‘The Burial of Casagemas’ and Subsequent Works, Toward Cubism, El Greco and Cubism after 1910, and The Late Picasso: Wrestling with the Old Masters.
El Greco’s unmistakable painting style won him considerable fame in his day. Soon after his death, however, his work was largely forgotten. It was only around 1900 that an El Greco revival was launched. The young Picasso was instrumental to this rediscovery. His engagement with the Greek-Spanish master not only went far deeper than has previously been assumed but also lasted much longer. El Greco’s influence is just as palpable in Picasso’s works from the 1930s and 1940s as it is in the earlier Cubist paintings. Even at the end of his life, Picasso continued to reference El Greco. Not only does the show open up new perspectives on two towering artists of their times. It also offers fresh insight into their importance as a constellation for the development of avant-garde art in the twentieth century.
Picasso El Greco at Kunstmuseum Basel is curated by Carmen Giménez, with Gabriel Dette, Josef Helfenstein and Ana Mingot.
This exhibition walkthrough shows some highlights of the exhibition. Picasso El Greco at Kunstmuseum Basel runs until September 25, 2022.
Picasso El Greco at Kunstmuseum Basel | Neubau, Basel (Switzerland). Press preview, June 9, 2022.
PS: Introduction to the exhibition by curator Josef Helfenstein.
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