Posts Tagged ‘Blue Period

18
May
19

Exhibition: ‘The young Picasso – Blue and Rose Periods’ at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland

Exhibition dates: 3rd February – 26th May 2019

Curator: Dr Raphaël Bouvier

 

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Yo Picasso' 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Yo Picasso (I Picasso)
1901
Oil on canvas
73.5 x 60 cm Private collection
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

 

Room 1

The young artist gazes defiantly over his shoulder at the viewer. His white shirt, painted with bold brushstrokes, glows against the dark background; in his right hand he holds a palette with traces of paint which, together with the lively orange and yellow in his cravat and face, create marked contrasts. The aspiring artist produced this self-portrait for his first exhibition at Ambroise Vollard’s gallery in Paris. Picasso painted himself here in a style reminiscent of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec or Vincent van Gogh. The palette alone identifies the subject as an artist. The expressively applied colours, their brushstrokes clearly visible, carry significance: here the painter is not portrayed working, but through his work itself. The painting is a bold statement by the artist newly arrived in Paris – something that Picasso underscores with the inscription ‘Yo’ (Engl.: I) besides his signature in the upper left corner of the canvas. From this point on, he would sign his works simply ‘Picasso’ – his mother’s surname.

 

 

And now for something completely different…

My favourite periods of Picasso, probably because her tries to depict the feelings of the people he is portraying.

I love the paintings disrupted humanism, the monumental, twisted, isolated figures placed against a colourful, pictorially flattened, sometimes contextless ground. The spirit these paintings call forth – the intense gaze in the 1901 self-portrait; the sad introspection, depression of the Melancholy Women (1901); the existential themes of death, suffering and love in La Vie (Life) (1903) – show a 21 year old artist mature beyond his years, wizened in wisdom and understanding through the death of his sister and his friend Casagemas: “poverty, dejection, creative anguish, and grief for those lost.”

“In the most emotional, emotionally expressive pictures of this phase, the artist looks into the depths of human misery and relies on expressive topics such as life, love, sexuality and death.” The circus and acrobat paintings continue the theme of melancholy, disenchanted figures of the commedia dell’arte intertwined in the transformation of bodies in space (Henri Lefebvre).

Call me an old romantic, but the attitude and the touch of the emaciated blind man’s hand as he reaches for his flagon of wine totally does it for me in a way that the more brutish, primitivist paintings of his later raw style never can.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Fondation Beyeler for allowing me to publish the images in the posting. Please click on the images for a larger version of the art.

 

 

“I was a painter and became Picasso.”

 

“The Blue Period was not a question of light and colour. It was an inner necessity to paint like that.

.
Pablo Picasso

 

 

At the age of just twenty, the aspiring genius Picasso (1881-1973) was already engaged in a restless search for new themes and forms of expression, which he immediately brought to perfection. One artistic revolution followed another, in a rapid succession of changing styles and visual worlds. The exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler places the focus on the Blue and Rose periods (1901-1906), and thus on a central phase in Picasso’s work. It also sheds fresh light on the emergence, from 1907 onward, of Cubism, as an epochal new movement that was nevertheless rooted in the art of the preceding period.

In these poignant and magical works, realised in Spain and France, Picasso – the artist of the century – creates images that have a universal evocative power. Matters of existential significance, such as life, love, sexuality, fate, and death, find their embodiment in the delicate beauty of young women and men, but also in depictions of children and old people who carry within them happiness and joy, accompanied by sadness.

Text from the Fondation Beyeler website [Online] Cited 19/04/2019

 

Unknown photographer. 'Pablo Picasso, Pere Mañach and Antonio Torres Fuster, Boulevard de Clichy 130, Paris' 1901

 

Unknown photographer
Pablo Picasso, Pere Mañach and Antonio Torres Fuster, Boulevard de Clichy 130, Paris
1901
Photo: © NMR-Grand Palace (Picasso-Paris National Museum) / Daniel Arnaudet

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Buveuse d'absinthe' (The Absinthe Drinker) 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Buveuse d’absinthe (The Absinthe Drinker)
1901
Oil on canvas
73 x 54 cm
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

 

 

Room 2

In his early years, Picasso reused his canvases multiple times, mostly due to a lack of money. He often overpainted his own pictures or – as in Femme dans la loge and Buveuse d’absinthe – used both the front and back sides. Femme dans la loge was done at the time of Picasso’s first exhibition at Ambroise Vollard’s gallery. While the figure of the ageing dancer or courtesan, along with the setting, showcase a colouristic firework, the woman’s face is carefully modelled, revealing individualised features. The work Buveuse d’absinthe, today known as the front side, was created only shortly thereafter, and marks the transition from Picasso’s early pictures to those of the Blue Period. Here, flat, opaquely applied colours extend over large areas, with individual fields of colour clearly delineated from one another by dark contours. The absinthe drinker sits away from the small table, alone, her gaze blank, self-absorbed. The scene emanates an atmosphere of melancholy and other-worldliness that would later come to typify the works of the Blue Period.

“… the images created by the young artist are sharply dramatic. For example, in this painting, the most striking detail is a giant right hand of a woman, who is absorbed in her thoughts and tries to embrace and protect herself with this hand.”

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Arlequin assis' (Harlequin sitting) 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Arlequin assis (Harlequin sitting)
1901
Oil on canvas
83.2 x 61.3 cm
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase Mr. and Mrs. John L. Loeb, Gift 1960
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence

 

 

Room 2

Arlequin assis is one of the earliest Harlequin depictions in Picasso’s oeuvre. In an unnaturally twisted pose, the Harlequin sits at a table and turns his head in the opposite direction to the rest of his body. The table jutting diagonally into the picture space offers him a support on which to rest his elbow. As in Picasso’s female portraits of 1901, here, too, the hands attract the viewer’s attention due to their large size and elongated shape. Surprisingly, the Harlequin with his melancholy posture in fact bears the facial features of Pierrot. Although Picasso was perfectly familiar with the differences between Harlequin and Pierrot, he often mixed up their distinguishing features. At that time, the two commedia dell’arte figures were part of popular culture, be it in magazine illustrations, the circus or in the opera.

 

 

Introduction of the exhibition

Pablo Picasso’s pioneering works of the Blue and Rose Periods, which characterise his oeuvre from 1901 to 1906, ushered in the art of the twentieth-century and at the same time constitute one of its outstanding achievements. In fact, Picasso’s pictures from these years include some of the subtlest examples of modern painting and are now among the most valuable and sought-after art treasures of all.

Extensive presentations of these works are accordingly rare. The exhibition “The Young Picasso: Blue and Rose Periods” at the Fondation Beyeler thus represents a milestone in the history of the museum. The show traces the unparalleled artistic development that began with the works of the early months of 1901, when Picasso was not yet twenty, and continued until 1907. In the course of these six years, the young Pablo Ruiz Picasso developed his own personal style and became “Picasso,” as he began to sign his works in 1901. The compelling images of the Blue and Rose Periods, characterised by a unique emotional power and depth, show the artist from an exceptionally sensitive side and thus offer a nuanced picture of his work and personality.

The exhibition begins with works from the early months of 1901, created initially in Madrid and then above all during Picasso’s second stay in Paris. These exuberantly colourful paintings, which clearly exhibit the influence of Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, reveal Picasso’s personal view of Paris and the elegant world of the Belle Époque. From the late summer of 1901 onward, following the tragic suicide of his artist-friend Carles Casagemas, who had accompanied him during his first visit to Paris, in 1900, Picasso began work on a series of pictures in which the colour blue became the dominant expressive element, announcing the start of the so-called Blue Period. He created these works, pervaded by an atmosphere of melancholy and spirituality, in the following years, up to 1904, as he moved back and forth between Paris and Barcelona. They owe at least part of their inspiration to Symbolism and the singular Mannerist style of El Greco and show Picasso engaging with existential questions of life, love, sexuality, fate, and death, movingly embodied by fragile, introverted figures of all ages. The pictures of the Blue Period are mainly concerned with marginalised victims of society, in situations of extreme vulnerability – beggars, people with disabilities, prostitutes, and prisoners, living in poverty and misery, whose despair is mitigated, however, by an aura of dignity and grace. This also reflects Picasso’s own precarious circumstances before his breakthrough as an artist.

His final relocation to Paris, in 1904, when he set up his studio at the Bateau-Lavoir, marked the beginning of a new phase in his life and work. It is at this point that Picasso met Fernande Olivier, his first longer-term companion and muse. The pictures gradually break free from the limited palette dominated by blue, which gives way to warmer rose and ochre tones, although the underlying mood of melancholy still persists. Picasso’s works are increasingly populated by jugglers, performers, and acrobats, in group or family configurations, personifying the anti-bourgeois, bohemian life of the circus and the art world. In 1906 the artist achieved his first major commercial success, when the dealer Ambroise Vollard bought nearly the entire stock of new pictures in his studio. This enabled Picasso, with Olivier, to leave Paris and spend several weeks in the Catalonian mountain village of Gósol. Under the impression of the rugged landscape and the villagers’ simple way of life, Picasso painted mainly pictures of human figures in idyllic, primordial settings, combining classical and archaic elements.

In the fall of 1906, after his return to Paris, he spent some time absorbing the impressions from his recent encounters with ancient Iberian sculpture and the visual world of Paul Gauguin, and began, in his quest for a new artistic authenticity, to formulate a Primitivist pictorial language. This found expression in an innovative reduction and simplification of the human figure. In sharp contrast to the fine-limbed creatures of the circus world, Picasso’s figures from this phase are bulky and heavy, with impressive female nudes whose bodies take on almost geometric form. This new conception of the figure took a further, radical turn in 1907, in the works that would lead – also under the growing influence of African and Oceanic art – to Picasso’s revolutionary painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, proclaiming the advent of Cubism.

The development of the Blue and Rose Periods makes it clear that the young Picasso managed, within just six years, to achieve a preternaturally early aesthetic perfection, incorporating artistic mannerisms and archaisms into the articulation of new principles for the depiction of the human body through deformation and deconstruction. In a process that only appears contradictory, Picasso’s striving for new aesthetic possibilities advanced through several forms of refinement, and in a gradual emancipation from classical ideals of beauty, to the realisation of a groundbreaking form of artistic authenticity and autonomy. Cubism, in this light, no longer appears as a radical hiatus in Picasso’s oeuvre, but rather as the logical extension of the artistic ideas of the Blue and Rose Periods.

The exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, which has been organised in collaboration with the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie and the Musée national Picasso-Paris, differs from the first presentation in Paris in one important respect: its prospective extension of the view of Picasso’s Blue and Rose Periods by the inclusion of the artist’s first proto-Cubist pictures from 1907, created in the context of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. One of the preliminary studies for the latter work, titled Femme (époque des “Demoiselles d’Avignon”), forms the spectacular starting point of the Fondation Beyeler’s extensive Picasso collection, and at the same time marks the finale of this exhibition. Whereas the presentation in Paris supplemented the finished works with numerous preliminary studies and copious archive material, the exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler places the focus firmly on Picasso’s painting and sculpture in the period concerned. With some seventy-five masterpieces from renowned museums and outstanding private collections across the globe, the show presents the quintessence of Picasso’s oeuvre from 1901 to 1907, illuminating a chief phase of transition in the multifaceted work of the young artist. Many central works from this period now count among the major attractions in the collections of leading international museums. Yet, several key works are still in private hands – a number of which are on public display in Riehen for the first time in many decades.

Text from the Fondation Beyeler [Online] Cited 19/04/2019

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Arlequin et sa compagne' (Harlequin and his companion) 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Arlequin et sa compagne (Harlequin and his companion)
1901
Oil on canvas
73 x 60 cm
Moscow, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Casagemas dans cercueil' (Casagemas in His Coffin) 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Casagemas dans cercueil (Casagemas in His Coffin)
1901
Oil on cardboard
72.5 x 57.8 cm
Private collection

 

 

Room 3

This impressive work was one of a series of paintings with which Picasso dealt with the tragic loss of his artist-friend Carles Casagemas, who committed suicide on 17 February 1901. In the vertical-format picture only part of the lifeless figure is depicted. The body, diagonally fixed into the composition, is cropped by the coffin and the picture edge. Rendered in profile, the face with its yellow-green colouration and prominent facial contours stands out against the blue-white shroud. The image represents a variation of the painting La Mort de Casagemas (below) from the same period, which is also on view in the present exhibition. In it, the subject’s head has been moved close to the viewer and a huge candle emits multicoloured light. By contrast, most of the other works in the Casagemas cycle are rendered in a range of mainly blue tones. Picasso retrospectively remarked: ‘The thought that Casagemas was dead led to me painting in blue’.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'La Mort de Casagemas' 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
La Mort de Casagemas (The Death of Casagemas)
1901
Oil on wood
27 x 35 cm
Musée national Picasso-Paris
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Le Mort (la mise au tombeau)' (Death (The Burial)) 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Le Mort (la mise au tombeau) (Death (The Burial))
1901
Oil on canvas
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Courtesan with necklace of gems' 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Courtesan with necklace of gems (Courtesan avec collier de pierres précieuses)
1901
Oil on canvas
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Femme en bleu' 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Femme en bleu (Woman in blue)
1901
Oil on canvas
133 x 100 cm
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reine Sofía
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Autoportrait' 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Autoportrait (Self-portrait)
1901
Oil on canvas
81 x 60 cm
Musée national Picasso-Paris
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau

 

 

Room 3

Picasso painted this self-portrait at the end of his second stay in Paris. Compared with the work Yo Picasso, exhibited at the Galerie Vollard in the summer of 1901, a clear shift has taken place the following winter. The artist portrays himself bearded and pale-faced, with hollow cheeks, aged and wrapped in a heavy overcoat, making his body appear like a dense mass. The imposing, self-assured pose of the first portrait has given way to a posture conveying uncertainty. Yet here, too, Picasso’s intense gaze casts its spell on the viewer. The self-portrait is one of Picasso’s first works that emphasise the rich variety of his range of blue tones. As a means to express melancholy, blue pervades the entire composition, which is divided into blue-green and midnight blue fields of colour. Picasso kept the painting throughout his life.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Femme assise au fichu' 1901

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Femme assise au fichu (Melancholy Woman)
1901
Oil on canvas
100 x 69.2 cm
The Detroit Institute of Arts, Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © Bridgeman Images

 

 

Room 3

Femme assise au fichu presents a seated woman in profile, introspectively withdrawn, her arms folded and legs crossed. Her brightly illuminated face lends her an appearance both profound and monumental. She is situated in a bare room, probably a cell in the Saint-Lazare women’s prison in Paris, which Picasso visited several times in the autumn and winter of 1901-02 to make drawings for his portraits of women. The prison also housed numerous prostitutes, many of whom suffered from sexually transmitted diseases. In paintings such as this one, Picasso found a universal means of representing the social themes of poverty, misery and isolation.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'La Buveuse assoupie' (The Drinker dozing) 1902

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
La Buveuse assoupie (The Drinker dozing)
1902
Oil on canvas
Kunstmuseum Bern, Stiftung Othmar Huber, Berne
© Succession Picasso/ 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

View of the installation of the painting 'La Vie' (1903) for the exhibition 'The young Picasso - Blue and Rose Periods' at Fondation Beyeler

 

View of the installation of the painting La Vie (1903) for the exhibition The young Picasso – Blue and Rose Periods at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'La Vie' 1903

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
La Vie (Life)
1903
Oil on canvas
197 x 127.3 cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Donation Hanna Fund
© Succession Picasso / ProLitteris, Zurich 2018
Photo: © The Cleveland Museum of Art

 

 

Room 3

In La Vie, the allegorical masterpiece of the Blue Period, Picasso brings together existential themes such as death, suffering and love in a complexity suffused with melancholy. When the then twenty-one-year-old artist began with the preparatory drawings for this monumental painting in Barcelona in May 1903, he had already been painting primarily blue pictures for over two years. Although Picasso had originally planned the work as a self-portrait, his deceased friend Carles Casagemas appears here once again (and for the final time). Accompanied by a naked woman who nestles against his body, he stands in the left half of the picture, wearing only a white loincloth. He points his index finger at a clad woman, who carries an infant swaddled in a cloth. Appearing in the background as pictures within a picture are further figures, cowering. They lend the work an additional symbolic and enigmatic dimension.

In Picasso’s most celebrated painting from the Blue Period, however, he returns to the plight of the artist. La Vie (Life) (1903) brings us into an artist’s studio. While earlier versions of the painting, locked beneath the final work and revealed by X-rays, show Picasso as the central figure, in the end he depicted Casagemas as his subject. He is naked except for a loincloth as a nude woman clutches him, and the two look over at a mother and child. Behind them sit two canvases covered with crouching bodies.

Every element of the scene conveys vulnerability. The artist brings different facets of his troubles into a single canvas: poverty, dejection, creative anguish, and grief for those lost, like Casagemas. Interestingly, those X-rays have also revealed that the painting was executed on top of an earlier work called Last Moments, inspired by his sister’s death.

Perhaps, in bringing these various instances of heartbreak together, Picasso was also in the final stages of processing his grief. Indeed, soon after the artist finished La Vie, he moved to Paris and emerged from his Blue Period – into a palette of soft, joyful pinks. “Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions,” Picasso later explained.

Extract from Alexxa Gotthardt. “The Emotional Turmoil behind Picasso’s Blue Period,” on the Artsy website Dec 13, 2017 [Online] Cited 19/04/2019

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Le Repas de l'aveugle' (The Blind Man's Meal) 1903

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Le Repas de l’aveugle (The Blind Man’s Meal)
1903
Oil on canvas
95.3 x 94.6 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt, Gift 1950
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © 2017, The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence

 

 

Room 3

Painted in Barcelona in 1903, the picture Le Repas de l’aveugle depicts an emaciated blind man sitting before a frugal meal. The man’s whole suffering is conveyed by the exaggeration of his body with his bony shoulders, hollow-cheeked face and thin fingers. He is one of those miserable and solitary figures that appear like modern martyrs in Picasso’s pictures. The depicted provisions – the bread and wine – could be interpreted as Christian symbols. The starkly reduced range of colours and the dramatic effect of the scene created by the light lend the image a mystical quality. Here we feel the influence of El Greco’s paintings and Spanish religious art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

 

 

This exhibition, the most ambitious ever staged by the Fondation Beyeler, is devoted to the paintings and sculptures of the young Pablo Picasso from the so-called Blue and Rose periods, between 1901 and 1906. For the first time in Europe, the masterpieces of these crucial years, most of them a milestone on Picasso’s path to preeminence as the twentieth century’s most famous artist, are presented together, in a concentration and quality that are unparalleled. Picasso’s pictures from this phase of creative ferment are some of the finest and most emotionally compelling examples of modern painting, and are counted among the most valuable and sought-after works in the entire history of art. It is unlikely that they will be seen again in such a selection in a single place.

At the age of just twenty, the rising genius Picasso (1881-1973) embarked on a quest for new themes and forms of expression, which he immediately refined to a pitch of perfection. One artistic revolution followed another, in a rapid succession of changing styles and visual worlds. The focus of the exhibition is on the Blue and Rose periods, and thus on the six years in the life of the young Picasso that can be considered central to his entire oeuvre, paving the way for the epochal emergence of Cubism, which developed from Picasso’s previous work, in 1907. Here, the exhibition converges with the Fondation Beyeler’s permanent collection, whose earliest picture by Picasso is a study, dating from this pivotal year, for the Demoiselles d’Avignon.

In the chronologically structured exhibition, Picasso’s early painting career is explored through examples of his treatment of human subjects. Journeying back and forth between Paris and Barcelona, he addressed the human figure in a series of different approaches. In the phase dominated by the colour blue, from 1901, he observed the material deprivation and the psychological suffering of people on the margins of society, before turning – in 1905, when he had settled in Paris – to the themes of the Rose period, conferring the dignity of art on the hopes and yearnings of circus performers: jugglers, acrobats and harlequins. In his search for a new artistic authenticity, Picasso stayed for several weeks in mid-1906 in the village of Gósol, in the Spanish Pyrenees, and created a profusion of paintings and sculptures uniting classical and archaic ideals of the body. Finally, the increasing deformation and fragmentation of the figure, apparent in the “primitivist” pictures, especially of the female nude, which were painted subsequently in Paris, heralds the emergence of the new pictorial language of Cubism.

Press release from Fondation Beyeler Cited 19/04/2019

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Femme en chemise (Madeleine)' 1904-1905

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Femme en chemise (Madeleine) (Young Woman in a Chemise (Madeleine))
1904-1905
Oil on canvas
72.7 x 60 cm
London, Tate, Bequeathed by C. Frank Stoop 1933
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © Tate, London 2018

 

 

Room 4

A young woman, depicted in profile, stands isolated in an empty, dark-blue space. Her slender body is draped in a white blouse. Her left breast, its curve emphasised, is simultaneously concealed and revealed by the flimsily thin cloth. The woman’s pale skin and distinct facial features, as well as the delicately defined contours of her body, set her apart from the background. The colour scheme, suffused with light and depth, hints at Picasso’s gradual turn to warm pink and brown tones. The identity of the model long remained unclear because Picasso had overpainted the figure of a boy here with the slender silhouette of his first muse and lover, Madeleine. The artist first met Madeleine in 1904, after moving into his studio at the Bateau-Lavoir in Paris. She posed repeatedly for Picasso’s paintings in the transitional phase from the Blue to the Rose Period, until the spring of 1905.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Fillette nue au panier de fleurs' (Le panier fleuri) (Girl with a Basket of Flowers) 1905

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Fillette nue au panier de fleurs (Le panier fleuri) (Girl with a Basket of Flowers)
1905
Oil on canvas
155 x 66 cm
Private collection, New York

 

 

The painting Fillette au panier de fleurs is surprising in many respects. First of all, because of the extended vertical format, which also makes the girl appear elongated. The adolescent stands quite naked before us, with her body turned to the side and a serious expression on her face. A slight counter-movement is suggested in the transition from her feet to her torso. The girl’s face is turned towards the viewer and carefully modelled in the manner of a portrait. The body, by contrast, appears somewhat withdrawn, almost unreal. The radiant red flowers in the woven basket create a strong accent against the pale skin, black hair and light blue background. The art dealer Clovis Sagot purchased the picture from Picasso for the modest sum of seventy-five francs. It was one of the first works that the American writer and art collector Gertrude Stein acquired together with her brother Leo, as early as 1905. The Stein siblings subsequently built up a significant Picasso collection

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Le Marchand de gui' (The Mistletoe Seller) 1902-03

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Le Marchand de gui (The Mistletoe Seller)
1902-03
Oil on Canvas
55 x 38cm
© Succession Picasso / 2018 ProLitteris, Zurich 2018

 

 

Room 5

With an empathetic eye, Picasso concentrates here on the representation of two poverty-stricken people who together go about their hard, daily work – the selling of mistletoe. The wrinkled yet gentle face of the bearded old man contrasts with the smooth, fresh, yet serious visage of the boy, for whom the companion is at once antithesis and role model. While the two figures do not look at one another, their physical closeness and the old man’s affectionate gesture nevertheless suggest the greatest tenderness. With the subtle play of colours, Picasso succeeds in generating a mystical atmosphere. In his dignified appearance, the mistletoe vendor with the child comes here to symbolise a life of poverty endured without resignation and at the same time the hope of happiness.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Tête d'un arlequin' (Head of a harlequin) 1905

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Tête d’un arlequin (Head of a harlequin)
1905
Oil on canvas
40.7 x 31.8 cm
The Detroit Institute of Arts, Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © Bridgeman Images

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Femme de l'Île de Majorque' (Woman from Mallorca) 1905

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Femme de l’Île de Majorque (Woman from Mallorca)
1905
Gouache and watercolour on cardboard
67 x 51 cm
Moscow, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Femme à l'éventail' (Woman with a fan) 1905

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Femme à l’éventail (Woman with a fan)
1905
Oil on canvas
100.3 x 81 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art, Gift of the W. Averell Harriman Foundation in memory of Marie N. Hariman
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Famille de saltimbanques avec un singe' (Family of acrobats with a monkey) 1905

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Famille de saltimbanques avec un singe (Family of acrobats with a monkey)
1905
Oil on canvas
© Succession Picasso/2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © Göteborg Konstmuseum

 

 

Une vie pas tout à fait en rose: A life not quite in pink

Regarding the pink period, Apollinaire preferred to call it the “period of acrobats”, which would be more accurate as the works are not only pink. In 1905, without actually adopting this color, Picasso moved away from cold nocturnal tonalities for a semblance of serenity, as if the colors corresponded indeed to a state of mind. The tones are earthy, pastels. The unit is more likely to come from the circus theme and in particular from the Circus Medrano, not far from the Bateau-Lavoir, which Picasso frequents as many painters and poets of his time. It’s less about the circus, like Seurat’s, than about his backstage, like a family of acrobats with a monkey. The characters of the commedia dell’arte are intertwined, the figure of the buffoon and the figure of the madman who will be the subject of a sculpture. This one, exposed to the Foundation, was the portrait of the poet Max Jacob, to whom Picasso then added the cap which completed the analogy between the madman and the artist. Picasso liked to be assimilated to this strange, wandering, unattached, somewhat marginalised person who, like the artist, can afford a critical look at the world. There is still a lot of blue and melancholy. The same misery permeates the scene of the couple watching an empty plate, the clumsy and lonely pink acrobat or the sickly Harlequin. No acrobatic scenes under the applause of the public. Here we find the same disenchantment. Apollinaire always speaks of “pulmonary” rose. The blue / pink partition therefore remains relative.

Extract from Geneviève Nevejan. “Picasso jeune et mélancolique,” on the Choisir website 31 January 2019 [Online] Cited 19/04/2019

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Acrobate et jeune arlequin' 1905

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Acrobate et jeune arlequin (Acrobat and Young Harlequin)
1905
Gouache on cardboard
105 x 76 cm
Private collection
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

 

Room 5

Acrobate et jeune arlequin is among Picasso’s most impressive pictures from the world of the circus. Two performers of delicate appearance sit in front of a tattered looking blue backdrop. On the left is an androgynous boy in Harlequin costume with a chalk-white face, gazing to the right, towards the young man in acrobat’s clothing. The latter is depicted with arms clasped and eyes closed. At the transition point between the worlds of blue and pink, both the space and the figures seem to be in a state of transformation. Can the diamond pattern of the Harlequin’s costume and the geometric shape of the acrobat’s arms be seen as anticipating a ‘Cubification’ of the body? As the first-ever museum purchase of a work by Picasso, Acrobate et jeune arlequin was acquired for the municipal museum in Elberfeld near Wuppertal in 1911; today it is privately owned.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Arlequin assis sur fond rouge' 1905

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Arlequin assis sur fond rouge (Seated Harlequin on Red Background)
1905
Watercolour and ink on cardboard
57.5 x 41.2 cm
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Museum Berggruen
© Succession Picasso / 2018 ProLitteris, Zurich 2018
Photo: bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB, Museum Berggruen / Jens Ziehe

 

 

Room 6

Picasso never presents his Harlequins as tricksters or buffoons entertaining the audience with wild leaps, but rather as passive, melancholy figures. In Arlequin assis au fond rouge the Harlequin sits, motionless, his mouth closed. His naked, slightly splayed legs dangle from a wall. He appears bare, exposed, even though he wears a thin, washed-out costume and a hat. Despite his conspicuously frontal pose, his gaze is not directed exactly at the viewer. Picasso aims at capturing the essence of the figure, his great solitude, which is further accentuated by the vibrant, pulsating red background. The Harlequin figure may also embody the creative, sensitive artist, who must stand his ground in modern society

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The young Picasso - Blue and Rose Periods' at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland

 

Installation view of the exhibition The young Picasso – Blue and Rose Periods at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland showing at left, La toilette (1906) and at right, Les Deux Frères (The Two Brothers) (1906)

 

 

Room 7

In Deux Frères a boy carries his younger brother on his back; the two appear to merge together. The elder boy’s facial features are finely modelled, whereas those of the younger one are somewhat blurred and reduced to a few shapes. Both figures are naked, and place and time are uncertain. Only the edge of the floor and dark shadows indicate the room in which they are located. The artist makes it seem here that the figures are made of the same material as the space surrounding them. The painting was produced in Gósol, a Catalan mountain village in the eastern Pyrenees, where Picasso retreated for several weeks in the early summer of 1906. Far from urban life, he began developing a new pictorial language characterised by simplicity and earthiness. Here, Picasso drew inspiration notably from the naked body, initially from the male and then the female one.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'La toilette' 1906

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
La toilette
1906
Oil on canvas
59 1/2 x 39 inches (151.13 x 99.06 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Fellows for Life Fund, 1926
© Succession Picasso / 2018 ProLitteris, Zurich 2018

 

 

Room 7

In the summer of 1904 Picasso met Fernande Olivier, who would become his most important model and was also his companion until 1912. She shared with him a desperately poor life at the run-down Bateau-Lavoir studio building, in Montmartre, Paris. In 1906 she accompanied him to the Pyrenean village of Gósol in Spain. Olivier posed for Picasso, and to an extent her figure became a field for artistic experimentation. In La Toilette, Picasso’s search for a new archaic formal language still manifests itself in predominantly classical figures. In a bare interior, a naked young woman stands to the left, turned towards the viewer, arranging her hair in a mirror held by a black-haired woman dressed in blue and seen in profile. It is possible that the depictions of both women are portraits of Olivier, highlighting different, contrasting facets of the same person.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Autoportrait' (Self-portrait) 1906

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Autoportrait (Self-portrait)
1906
Oil on canvas
65 x 54 cm Musée national Picasso-Paris
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau

 

 

Room 8

In his early years Picasso frequently portrayed himself. Although not identified by obvious attributes, this image is also a self-portrait of the artist in which he illustrates his most recent achievements as a painter. The stocky man’s solid torso, his greyish skin tone and mask-like face exemplify the Primitivist pictorial language that Picasso developed in 1906. The artist was seeking new means of expression, painting almost exclusively nudes and in the process moving noticeably away from his earlier work. He was no longer interested in depicting feelings, wanting rather to experiment with new forms and render his subjects with new pictorial means. Picasso’s facial features in this painting appear formulaic, stereotypical – and he has moved quite some distance from the aesthetic of the Blue and Rose Periods.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Femme nue assise, les jambes croisées' (Seated Female Nude with Crossed Legs) 1906

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Femme nue assise, les jambes croisées (Seated Female Nude with Crossed Legs)
1906
Oil on canvas

 

 

Room 8

Picasso’s discovery of centuries-old Iberian sculpture flowed, in the autumn of 1906, into numerous female nudes in which a new, raw style emerged. Among them is this imposing representation of a seated woman in which the artist limited himself to brown and grey tones. The schematically rendered robust body composed of geometric volumes and the ossified, mask-like face with its empty eyes are typical of Picasso’s Primitivism in this period. Thus, the artist introduced here, within a classical picture theme, a new image of the body, aimed at reduction. This was to prove seminal for his artistic development in subsequent years culminating in the painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Nu sur fond rouge (Jeune femme nue à la chevelure)' 1906

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Nu sur fond rouge (Jeune femme nue à la chevelure) (Nude on red background (Young nude woman with hair)
1906
Oil on canvas
81 x 54 cm
Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie, Collection Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume
© Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée de l’Orangerie) / Hervé Lewandowski

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Femme' (Epoque des "Demoiselles d’Avignon") 1907

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Femme (Epoque des “Demoiselles d’Avignon”) (Woman (‘Demoiselles d’Avignon’ Period))
1907
Oil on canvas
119 x 93.5 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel
© Succession Picasso / 2018 ProLitteris, Zurich Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

 

 

Room 9

Femme, from 1907, also originated in the context of Picasso’s seminal picture Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and is the earliest work in the extensive Picasso collection assembled by Ernst and Hildy Beyeler. The sketch-like painting shows a naked female figure with raised arms, depicted in a pose that remains ambivalent. Wearing the cap of a sailor or ship’s captain (perhaps her hair is also set in a chignon), she is presented next to a yellow curtain drawn to the side and in front of a blue and green background. The face, whose features recall those of African masks, clearly reveals the great influence that non-European sculpture had on Picasso in this phase of his career. Whereas the figure’s face, arms and breasts are fully painted and bordered with clear contours, the lower body is sketched with just a few lines. In Femme Picasso seems to be deliberately playing with an aesthetic of incompletion – yet in light of its expressive power and manner of composition, the work is unquestionably finished.

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Pablo Picasso on Place Ravignan, Montmartre, Paris' 1904

 

Anonymous photographer
Pablo Picasso on Place Ravignan, Montmartre, Paris
1904
Silver gelatin print on paper
12 x 8.9 cm
Musée national Picasso-Paris

 

 

Fondation Beyeler
Beyeler Museum AG
Baselstrasse 77, CH-4125
Riehen, Switzerland

Opening hours:
10 am – 6 pm daily, Wednesdays until 8 pm

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03
Mar
11

Exhibition: ‘Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities’ at Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden

Exhibition dates: 27th November 2010 – 6th March 2011

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities' at Museum Frieder Burda

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities at Museum Frieder Burda

 

 

A great double act! Inspired curating puts the work of these artist’s together – everyday Americans with ethereal, theatrical image bites. The mis en scène created in the exhibition space, the tension between sculpture, photograph, frame and space – is delicious. Crewdson is at his best when he resists the obvious narrative (for example, all the traffic lights stuck on yellow in the photograph ‘Untitled (Brief Encounter)’ (2006, see below). Personally I prefer his staged photographs with pairs or groups of people within the image, rather than a single figure. The storyline is more ambiguous and the photographs of people walking along railway tracks always remind me of the Stephen King story filmed as ‘Stand by Me’ (1986) with a young River Phoenix. Either way they are intoxicating, the viewer drawn into these wonderful, dark psychological dramas.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to Museum Frieder Burda for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities' at Museum Frieder Burda with Duane Hanson 'Old Couple on a Bench' (1994) in the foreground and Gregory Crewdson 'Untitled (Worthington Street)' (2006) in the background

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities at Museum Frieder Burda with Duane Hanson Old Couple on a Bench (1994) in the foreground and Gregory Crewdson Untitled (Worthington Street) (2006) in the background

 

 

The works by the two American artists Duane Hanson (1925-1996) and Gregory Crewdson (born in 1962) confuse and touch the observer.

Both artists present people in their everyday lives, with hopes, yearnings and broken dreams. People we usually do not notice, aged and marked by reality, by life itself. While Hanson shapes his life-sized figures with a great deal of sympathy, Crewdson rather spreads a gloomy and depressing atmosphere in his pictures of lonely people in their houses, gardens and in streets.

With his realistic sculptures, the American artist Duane Hanson has become a synonym for contemporary realism in contemporary art. Typical motives are average people like  housewives, waitresses, car dealers, janitors. Posture and expression of these figures are very close to reality. The photographer Gregory Crewdson arranges his large format pictures with cineastic arrangements and lets the abyss behind every-day life scenes become visible.

The exhibition at the Frieder Burda Museum presents about 30 figures by Duane Hanson, mainly from the artist’s estate, in dialogue with 20 large format works from the series Beneath the Roses by the photographer Gregory Crewdson. The photographies are mainly owned by the artist himself.

The curators Götz Adriani and Patricia Kamp are not aiming at a direct confrontation. They are rather presenting two artists who work with different materials, but deal with very similar topics. Both artists, Hanson and Crewdson, are grand when it comes to arranging their art. Crewdson always puts very much effort into the arrangements of the scenes in his pictures, and Hanson always keeps an eye on his close surroundings.

The works of both artists impressively reflect the complexity of the human existence. …

 

Duane Hanson. 'Children Playing Game' 1979

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Children Playing Game
1979
Polyvinyl chloride, coloured with oil, mixed technique and accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

Duane Hanson. 'Tourists II' 1988

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Tourists II
1988
polyvinyl chloride, coloured with oil, mixed technique, accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

Duane Hanson. 'Self-Portrait with Model' 1979

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Self-Portrait with Model
1979
Polyvinyl chloride, coloured with oil, mixed technique and accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

Duane Hanson. 'Housepainter I' 1984/1988

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Housepainter I
1984/1988
Epoxy resin, coloured with oil, mixed technique, accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

Duane Hanson. 'Queenie II' 1988

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Queenie II
1988
Epoxy resin, coloured with oil, mixed technique, accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

 

Duane Hanson

Duane Hanson (1925-1996) is one of the most influential American sculptors of the 20th century committed to Realism.

The proximity to reality of his lifelike, detailed human figures make for perfect irritation. Despite all the seriousness hidden behind the socio-critical issue, which prompted Hanson to create his protagonists, the figures have a great deal of entertainment value, above all – and it is precisely this that makes them so appealing – due to their occasional gravitational bearing. Featuring twenty-five works, the exhibition presents a representative cross-section of the American’s extensive oeuvre, which comprises a total of only 114 works. The figures enter a dialogue with the large-format photographs by the American photo artist Gregory Crewdson, who has a flair for relating human abysses in a different and very subtle way.

In the early 1950s, after completing his study of sculpture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Hanson was initially guided by the abstract style of art that prevailed during this period. However, this would not lead to a satisfactory result. In 1953, he turned his back on his homeland and spent nearly ten years of his life earning a living as an art teacher at American schools in Germany. It was during this period that he discovered the materials polyester resin and fiberglass, which would become crucial for his future creative work. After returning to the United States, Hanson spent the ensuing years perfecting his artistic skills in the treatment of these materials in such a way that the boundaries between reality and artificial figure seem to blur – where Hanson was never concerned with the mere illusionistic reproduction of reality, but chose this veristic manner of representation as a medium for communicating his concern in terms of content, i.e., shedding light on the tragedy of human lives that hauntingly consolidates in his characters.

In the human figures produced in the early work phase in the late 1960s, Hanson responded to the sociopolitical tension and protest movements of the day. He created sculptures and ensembles that very directly take issue with social hardship, violence, or racism, and he took a stand for the victims of this system, for the people who never had a chance to successfully face the demands made by life.

Influenced by Pop Art, Hanson turned to thematising everyday American life, frequently switching his observations to a critically satirical attitude that was, however, always guided by compassion. Housewives, construction workers, car salesmen, or janitors – the models for his figures are people in the American middle and working classes in whose biographies the disappointment in the American dream has become entrenched. He often puts his people and all of their small insufficiencies into perspective with ironic kindness, such as, for example, the Tourists, in whom are combined all of the clichés associated with the typical Florida tourist.

Hanson’s participation in documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972 gave rise to his international breakthrough. His figures became more lifelike; they more and more naturally blended into their surroundings. Their gestures, facial expressions, and postures related the emotional and physical burdens of life. The artist concentrated on older people in whose physiognomies one can read the traces of existence, the impact of loneliness, the problems that accompany being old, and their alienation. Hanson was struck by the isolation of this generation by society, a circumstance that has not lost any of its relevance.

Hanson’s interest in rendering the figures as lifelike as possible is surely not rooted in a desire to want to convince the viewer of their “authenticity”; rather, their lifelikeness was meant to move the viewer to experience empathy and concern, thus manifesting Hanson’s humanism. Human values and destinies comprise the focus of his art; he transforms the reality of life into the realism of art and in doing so sharpens our outlook and our view of the world, our fellow human beings, and our own life as well.

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Birth)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Birth)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2007
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Blue Period)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2005

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Blue Period)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2005
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Brief Encounter)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Brief Encounter)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Debutante)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Debutante)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Forest Clearing)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Forest Clearing)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (House Fire)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2004

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (House Fire)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2004
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Kent Street)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Kent Street)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2007
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Maple Street)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2004

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Maple Street)
From the series Beneath the Roses
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Merchants Row)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2003

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Merchants Row)
From the series Beneath the Roses
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

 

Gregory Crewdson

Born in 1962 in Brooklyn, New York, Gregory Crewdson is one of the best-known contemporary photographers internationally. In his most important series to date Beneath the Roses, which he created between 2003 and 2008, Crewdson explores the American psyche and the disturbing realities at play within quotidian environments. In his dramatically detailed and realistic photographs situated in America’s morbid, small-town milieu, the artist succeeds to stimulate the viewer’s subconscious on various levels. Twenty outstanding works from the series are being placed in a dialogue with sculptures by Duane Hanson. Gregory Crewdson does not spare either effort or expenses for the production of his visual inventions, which are reminiscent of film productions. The stagings are planned and arranged in advance down to the smallest detail and then elaborately implemented in a major logistical and human effort. The final photograph is the result of what is frequently work lasting several weeks, a circumstance that is substantiated by its depths in terms of content and its technical perfection.

Gregory Crewdson works in two distinct ways to create his photographs. On one hand, he works on location in real neighborhoods and townships. On the other hand, the artist works on the soundstage inventing his world from scratch. Before the photographic location productions start, Crewdson drives around upstate Massachusetts looking for interesting settings, which he then has prepared in an elaborate process. In most cases, local residents of the ramshackle towns also play the characters in his work. Crewdson works closely with the art department of the museum MASSMoCA, when shooting his pictures done on the soundstage. The results are much like stills from a movie and reflect his affinity with cinema. Filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, or Steven Spielberg are the inspiration for Crewdson’s uncanny stories, which he seems to freeze in a single snapshot in time.

The construction of this narrative instant demonstrates the artist’s extraordinary talent. Like sophisticated literature does the reader, his works pose a challenge to viewers, as they have to mount the decisive share of the creative effort themselves. A brief, fleeting glance is not enough. Viewers become immersed in the staged scenes full of details and accessories to experience a moment that is intensely real. Fantasy and the powers of imagination and association fashion the visual event in the mind to become a subjective, alternative reality – an uncanny reality.

In his photographs, Crewdson deliberately works with emotions and fears that extend through his oeuvre in recurring, in part very different scenarios. They mirror alienation, absence, shame, sexuality, and loss – human states of emotion that deeply touch the viewer. That the artist focuses on the mind in his works may be due to the fact that, as the son of a psychoanalyst, he experienced insight into the profundity of the human soul very early on. His works can be regarded as metaphors for fears and desires, for the things that take place below the surface, the palpable, as if Crewdson wanted to make visible a new or different level of reality situated somewhere between the conscious and subconscious.

At the same time, the Beneath the Roses series can be seen as a psychological study of the American province. The settings show social realities and document the economic decline of a society behind the backdrop of the American way of life. Unsentimental and direct, they reflect working-class life – which allows us to strike an arc to the work by Duane Hanson, whose oeuvre also revolves around the concept of humanity, the facets of which he lends expression to in his silent, introverted figures.

The evolution of Beneath the Roses was documented in a series of production stills, original drawings by the artist, and detailed lighting plans. About sixty works from this reservoir are presented in a studio exhibition at the museum in order to illustrate the complex technical process of producing the photographs. Gregory Crewdson completed his study of Street Photography at the Yale School of Art in New Haven in 1988. He returned to Yale in 1993 and has occupied the Chair of Photography since.

Press release from the Museum Frieder Burda website

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Natural Bridge)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Natural Bridge)
From the series Beneath the Roses
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Railway Children)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2003

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Railway Children)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2003
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (RBS Automotive)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (RBS Automotive)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2007
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Shane)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Shane)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Sunday Roast)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2005

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Sunday Roast)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2005
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Temple Street)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Temple Street)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (The Father)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (The Father)
From the series Beneath the Roses
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Trailer Park)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 200

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Trailer Park)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2007
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Worthington Street)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Worthington Street)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

 

Museum Frieder Burda
Lichtentaler Allee 8b
D-76530 Baden-Baden
Phone: +49 (0)7221 / 3 98 98-0

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
Closed Mondays

Museum Frieder Burda website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Sleep/Wound’ 1995-96


Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: 'Sleep/Wound' 1995-96 *PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY - IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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