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New exhibition is first to fully examine impact of southern European sites on Picasso's towering achievements
Pablo Picasso, Le Déjeuner l'herbe d'après Manet (Luncheon on the Grass, after Manet), Mougins, 13 July 1961. Oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm. Musée national Picasso-Paris. Acceptance in lieu Pablo Picasso, 1979. MP217. © 2021 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.- This winter The Dalí Museum offers a celebration of Pablo Picasso’s flourishing creativity in the south of France and northern Spain. Organized by The Dalí Museum in collaboration with the Musée national Picasso-Paris, Picasso and the Allure of the South offers a fascinating new avenue for understanding Picasso’s artistic spirit through the lens of this unique geographical zone. Some of Pablo Picasso's most creative periods took place during summer sojourns in the mountain and coastal communities of the Spanish and French border, including Céret, Sorgues, Vallauris, Horta de Ebro and Cadaqués. The exhibition presents paintings, drawings and collages – approximately half of which have never been seen in the U.S. – from the Musée national Picasso-Paris, as well as the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection, New York. The Dalí Museum is the only venue worldwide to present this exhibition, which is curated by Dr. William Jeffett, The Dalí Museum’s curator of special exhibitions.

“Picasso created consummate works of art that drew inspiration from the cultures of this shared southern region, leading viewers to explore its rich allure and to reflect on the notion of borderlands more universally,” said Dr. Hank Hine, executive director of The Dalí. “Picasso and the Allure of the South is emblematic of the accessible and multilayered international projects that The Dalí originates to enlighten our audiences from near and far.”

Born in Málaga, Spain, in 1881, Picasso spent his formative years in Barcelona, where he learned to speak Catalan. In the many places he lived, worked and visited throughout the Pyrenees and Mediterranean, Picasso found inspiration from the area’s landforms, rituals and customs. Picasso and the Allure of the South presents an exceptional selection of portraits, still lifes, figural studies and landscapes dating from 1909 to 1972 that reflect Picasso’s career-long rapport with the provinces of his homeland and southern France.

The exhibition is divided into four thematic sections that trace the importance of the geographic region to Picasso’s work and legacy.

The Birth of Cubism features a selection of drawings and collages that address how specific places in northern Spain and southern France – far from the major cities of Paris and Barcelona – inspired Picasso’s early experimentation and evolution of Cubism. Images of village life, mountain views and musicians figure prominently, including The Oil Mill (1909) and Studies of a Boat (1910), a typical Catalan fishing boat rendered with cross-hatching.

From Cubism to Realism examines Picasso’s shift to a more playful approach to Cubist idioms and considers how the environment of the south profoundly impacted his landscapes, still lifes and portrayals of café habitués. Landscape of Juan-les-Pins (1920) depicts houses and gardens through an explosion of color, light and breezy joie de vivre that retains some elements of Cubism but in an altogether new way.

In the third section, Corridas de Sud – Bullfighting, the exhibition maps Picasso’s fascination with the corrida from a very young age. This is perhaps the most persistent subject throughout his long life as an artist, with the bull representing a personal and political symbol. In the painting Corrida (most likely executed in late December 1923 or early January 1924), Picasso focuses on the conflict of the bull and the horse, as well as the death of the matador, with an early surrealist concern for both passionate drama and the proximity of death.

The exhibition concludes with Surrealism and Beyond, when Picasso’s painting in the 1930s turned to a deep engagement with Surrealism. Although never an official member of the surrealist group, largely because his work was anchored on lived experience, Picasso developed a rich synthesis of the palette and radiance of the south that was steeped in surrealist motifs of dreams and imagination.

Among the masterworks in the exhibition that have never before been on display in the U.S. are the canvasses Portrait de Madame Rosenberg and her Daughter (1918), a tour de force of naturalism and a return to order associated with classicism, tradition and Mediterranean culture; Woman at the Sideboard (1936); and The Kiss (1969), in which a balding and bearded figure, an avatar of the artist, is locked in a kiss with a dark-haired woman.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 240-page, illustrated catalogue published by Ludion, with essays by the curator, William Jeffett, and Emilia Philippot, the head of collections at the Musée national Picasso-Paris.

The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Musée national Picasso-Paris.

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