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Picasso 1937-1953. His apogee years in Italy  
Silvia Giabbani
ISSN 1127-4883     BTA - Telematic Bulletin of Art, February 28th 1999, n. 164

Up to march 14, in the Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome, there is an exhibition entitled: Picasso: 1937-1953. Gli anni dell'apogeo in Italia.
As show in the title, Picasso's exhibition is about a particular period of his artistic production, between 1937 and 1953. These two dates coincide with Guernica (1937) and with the two important exhibitions which were dedicated to him in Rome and in Milan (1953). The purpose of this exhibition is to let people know Picasso's artistic production in these years as in that period all artistis toke him as a model, especially italians. But not only his artistic production was taken a model, also Picasso's personage was imitated. In fact, in that period Picasso was openly aganist to the dictatorship (Dream and lie of Franco, January 1937) and he impeached the horrors of war (Guernica, April-June 1937). During the hard years of the Geman occupation he refused to be condescending towards the enemy even if germans tried, after the armistice in 1940, to establish good relations with him, and with all the French intelligentsia.

His opposition to the political and war events of that period culminated with his entrance in the comunist french party in 1944, and then in the peace movement. Italians, who just came out from provincialism during the fascist period, looked at Picasso as a champion of ideological freedom and of the most progressive and commited painting. So, unlike other countries where artists looked principally to the surrealist Picasso of the thirties, italians looked to his latest production.

Picasso "myth" was then completely celebrated in 1953 whit two important exhibitions, one in Rome at the same Galleria Nazionale d'arte Moderna e Contemporanea where at present there is his new exhibition, and the other one in Milan, at the Palazzo Reale. Both exhibitions were very successfull, in Rome there were 50.000 visitors and in Milan there were 200.000 visitors.

Italian Comunist Party wanted them strongly, particularly the senator Reale, who took care personally of his relations whit Picasso. Communist party tried to originate a culture which would oppose clerical influence and past time, and not only Picasso was one of the founders of the European modern painting but he was also a Communist party member, and so he was the right person for this purpose. But in 1953 starts a progressive indifference towards Picasso from Italian artists as they were now attracted by new overseas currentes.

In order to representent how Picasso's influence was important Italian artists we can find painting as Crocefissione (1940-1941), by Guttuso; Cassandra (1947( by Enrico Prampolini; Rivolta (1948) by GiulioTurcato; Cesto con frutta (1950) by Luciano Gaspari; Figura n.º3 by Ennio Merlotti and Bombardamento Notturno (1954) by Leoncillo.

The exhibition starts on the two sheets concerning Dream and Lie of Franco, realized in January 1937 and with some preparatory cartoons for Guernica which is now irremovable from Prado.
Some portraits of Dora Maar, his companion in that period, derived directly from Guerinca and were known as Crying woman. They were hollow and bony woman where people could see the dramatic events of that time. At the same time Picasso painted also some portraits more joyful and ironic, as the Portrait of Nush Eluard (1942) where, though faces were distorted woman's beauty, and her solar character, underlined by a yellow alo, which was also painted by Man Ray, was very clear.

The portrait of Jaime Sebartes, who was a friend of him and his personnel secretary, was painted in 1937. Also in this portrait Picasso enjoyed himself by representing him as a grand of spaw, with a feather and a collar, while physiognomical distorsions are not bony and distorting, but are painted with round shapes, more pleasant. There were also other interesting portraits as Helen Parmilen (1946) and Child with dove (1943) and his children Cloude and Paloma (1950).

An interesting aspect of this exhibition is the presence of several bronze realized among them there is in the Man and the Lamb (1942): Picasso did his plaster model during the war, when metal could be used only for war purposed, and the he moulded it in bronze during peace time. Later on he did Woman with push-car (1950) by assembling several things in a plaster model and Pregnant woman (1949) in bronze.

All these works of art are the result and represent different periods, the firts one is a masterpiece moulded in a day and is dued to the reaction to war and it remakes on of most ancient and mediterranean factors of culture: the Lamb as a scapegoat and as a hope for a better future, the second ones connect certainly with his private life, the birth of his two children Claode and Palomahe had rom Francoise Giraude. In addition to the bronzes there are some ceramics that he did or decorated. Picasso started to work ceramics in 1946 and since then he did it with enthusiasm. There is another aspect of his production: his black-and-white works. There are some lithographs, above all the series of the Bull (1945-1946). Through 11 phases we can follow Picasso's creative path from the model up to the final vision. The exhibition ends with Massacre in Corea, painted in 1951, after the war in Corea, it was probably his most political and commited painting.



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