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The Old Guy

Roberta Smith reviews the fantastic show at Gagosian gallery of Picasso’s late works. She says it’s…
“One of the best shows to be seen in New York since the turn of the century, it proves that contrary to decades of received opinion, Picasso didn’t skitter irretrievably into an abyss of kitsch, incoherence or irrelevance after this or that high-water mark.” And it is! I have loved Picasso’s late paintings for quite some time, and they have been a steady beacon for my ideas about painting and my own work. I have seen the show twice now and each time it’s been a dream! What surprised me most is how intimate that late work really is, how it unfolds like a conversation. We get to involve ourselves with one of the greatest painters ever as he lets it all go and leaves nothing on the table. The play of vision in these works is amazing, robust, intelligent and filled with complex emotions. Many folks I’ve talked with who aren’t convinced try to fob off these works as late expressionism. But that isn’t the case. These paintings reveal a complicated visual discourse that reaches back into painting’s history. Picasso was busy finding new means of moving and defining his surfaces while expanding the importance of form, the rising subject, within those surfaces. It was a late great phase of youthful innovation, and a legacy for those of us working outside the Postmodern academies. For a deeper discussion of Picasso’s late works you might enjoy reading the first of our Figuring It Out series. But in Roberta’s review she also slyly alludes to the fact that these works might renew an interest in vision and innovation, and that is really refreshing to read! “Anything this charged and unforgettable is bound to nourish anyone who sees it, but especially artists, regardless of affiliations of style or medium. It reveals one of their greatest going all out, providing a breathtaking reminder that art can be anything an artist wants it to be, as long as it is driven by inner necessity, ruthless self-scrutiny and a determination to make every attempt not to repeat the past.” Both praise and challenge!

2 Comments

  1. Steve Durbin wrote:

    I came here right after reading the Times article–figured you’d be all over it. I’m sure it’s very exciting to see so much of an artist with similar concerns. I think you and Smith are right that this could significantly stir things up. I heard Susan Galassi make a similar point in a lecture a couple years ago.

    Friday, April 17, 2009 at 6:17 PM | Permalink
  2. Carla wrote:

    I’d really love to see this show. I find Picasso’s late work inspiring and reassuring.

    “It was a late great phase of youthful innovation.”

    Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

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