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MoMA EXHIBITION EXPLORES PICASSO’S ICONIC GUITAR SCULPTURES AND HIS EXPERIMENTAL PRACTICE FROM 1912 TO 1914 | NY

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) Installation in the artist’s studio at 242, boulevard Raspail. Paris, December 9, 1912, or later Gelatin silver print 3 3/8 x 4 1/2" (8.6 x 11.5 cm) Private collection
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) Installation in the artist’s studio at 242, boulevard Raspail. Paris, December 9, 1912, or later Gelatin silver print 3 3/8 x 4 1/2" (8.6 x 11.5 cm) Private collection

Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914
February 13–June 6, 2011
Special Exhibitions Gallery, Third Floor
The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York

NEW YORK, November 18, 2010—Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914 will focus on Pablo Picasso’s cardboard and sheet-metal Guitar sculptures, and the incandescent period of material and structural innovation these sculptures bracket in the artist’s long career. The exhibition will be on view in The Museum of Modern Art’s Special Exhibitions gallery from February 13 through June 6, 2011. Bringing together some 70 closely connected collages, constructions, drawings, mixed-media paintings, and photographs assembled from over 30 public and private collections worldwide, the exhibition situates Picasso’s modest yet revolutionary Guitars within his broader studio practice between 1912 and 1914. The exhibition is organized by Anne Umland, Curator, with Blair Hartzell, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition takes as its point of departure Picasso’s first Guitar construction, a sculpture made between October and December 1912. Cobbled together from cardboard, paper, string, and wire—materials he cut, folded, threaded, and glued—Picasso’s silent instrument resembled no sculpture that had ever been seen before. Its creation coincided with Picasso’s embrace of a wide range of what were then unconventional materials, including cardboard, newspaper, wallpaper, sheet music, and sand. In 1914 the artist reiterated his fragile, papery Guitar construction in more fixed and durable sheet-metal form. In the early 1970s Picasso donated both works to The Museum of Modern Art.

Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914 was catalyzed by the recent rediscovery of a still-life element in MoMA’s storage that once accompanied the cardboard Guitar in one of the artist’s well-documented but ephemeral Cubist assemblages. From this carefully composed still life, first published in November 1913, Picasso had saved both the Guitar and the semi-circular “tabletop” on which it had rested. Prompted by the careful study of a photograph of the 1913 assemblage by art historian Christine Poggi, the “tabletop” was rediscovered in MoMA’s collection in 2005. To reunite the two pieces is to recognize the variable installations that were integral to the artist’s practice in the years before World War I, and to consider anew the distinct yet interrelated histories of two of his most iconic works. Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914 is the first time that cardboard Guitar will be publicly exhibited with this distinctive tabletop element.

SPONSORSHIP: The exhibition is supported by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III. PUBLICATIONS: In February 2011 the publication Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914 will accompany the MoMA exhibition. Synthesizing archival material and eyewitness accounts, the richly illustrated volume offers new insights into Picasso’s Guitars and the constellation of paintings, constructions, collages, drawings, and photographs that surrounded them in the studio at this breakthrough moment in the artist’s career and in the history of 20th-century art. Hardcover, 8 x 10”. 112 pages; 120 illustrations; 978-0-87070-794-0. $24.95. MoMA is also working on the development of an e-book to follow Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 that will draw upon the close examination of works assembled on the occasion of the exhibition.

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