Picasso in stripes – Style – Kommersant

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April 8 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). In his second home, France, the Musée Picasso in Paris prepared for this date the exposition “Celebration of Picasso, the collection blooms!”, inviting 76-year-old British designer Paul Smith as curator and designer.

The choice is not obvious, but the museum thus wants to draw attention to the permanent collection, where today it is not easy to lure viewers. And how to make the usual desirable and attractive, Paul Smith knows firsthand. He built his fashion empire on a pair of flashy details. When men wore stripes in the 1990s, he just made those stripes colorful and hit the jackpot. The museum is not fashion, but Smith does not pretend to curatorial competence, insisting on a creative, intuitive reading, which he, the viewer, lacks in exhibitions. They gave him carte blanche. “I want to offer a less traditional point of view that appeals more to the visual experience. After all, he is able to hold the attention of a young audience and people who do not know Picasso so well,” the designer explains. “This is a more spontaneous approach, instinctive.”

As he said, so he did. Paul Smith’s hand is recognizable from the very first hall, and it’s not worth looking for subtexts, they are not here. Here Picasso has a bull’s head made of a bicycle saddle and handlebars (1942), and on the contrary – the slender rows of a saddle and handlebars by an English designer known for his passion for cycling. The pink period, led by the “Avignon Maidens”, and to it – pink walls. The blue period, when Picasso’s colors thickened (against the background of the general poverty of the artist, the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas finished off), is presented in a melancholy hall in the tone of “Blue Self-Portrait” (1901). This is the most silent hall with minimal interference and, perhaps, the most successful.

Following are assemblages and collages, declared by “Still Life with a Wicker Chair” (1912) against the background of wallpaper – sometimes in a flower, sometimes in a rib, which are pasted like strips of adhesive tape. “Paul in a Harlequin Suit” (1924), the trump card of the Paris Museum, enters the stage, and yellow-blue rhombuses in the color of the outfit creep along the wall, and white spots announce the release of “Field in a Pierrot Suit” (1925). The hall with “seated women”, where the masterpieces of the 1930s, headed by a portrait of Dora Maar, looking either in profile or in front, was filled with colored stripes, so dear to the designer’s heart. Looking at the pictures behind them is not an easy task. The 50s followed, marked by a move to the south of France, a return to cubism and Matisse. As a reminder, the numbers 50 are everywhere.

And a vest – where would Picasso be without it? – from photographs by Robert Doisneau and a forest of striped T-shirts suspended from the ceiling. “No, these are not mine,” Paul Smith said with some regret at the opening. Works by Guillermo Kuitka, Mikalen Thomas, Obi Okigbo and Sheri Samba were sewn into Picasso’s itinerary, echoing his masterpieces and designed to look at them from today. But dialogue does not happen: not only are the interlocutors not equal, but the war paint of Paul Smith wedged into this tense conversation. “This museum should not serve as a mausoleum for a great man,” says director Cecile Debre. Indeed, the Picasso Museum is now the least similar to the mausoleum. However, like a museum.

Maria Sidelnikova

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