Image
Pablo Picasso
Head of a Bearded Man, 1938 (?)
SODRAC (2018)

Picasso. The name is like a key to an alternative universe, an artistic cipher instantly recognizable worldwide, and incessantly beguiling. The great Spanish master left behind a legacy of massive proportions, partly due to his longevity and the “interesting times” he lived in, but mostly because of his enormous talent, and equally impressive, insatiable ego.

What is on display in the vast exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is Picasso in the throes of an infatuation with African art, and the visual dialogue it inspired. From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-face Picasso, Past and Present is a dizzying collection of “primitive” art juxtaposed with the artist’s works that keep this overwhelming offering in check. An adaptation of an exhibition first mounted at Musée du quai Branly/Jacques Chirac in Paris, it has taken over the museum galleries in a somewhat unusual re-visiting of the past in an attempt, in the words of the museum’s director, Natalie Bondil, “to tell the story of the decolonization of the gaze of a century, that of Picasso.” With this in mind, the exhibition contains a huge amount of written information accompanying each segment, injecting a scholastic note that takes away from the pure enjoyment of the artworks on display, which to a large degree tell the story via the pictorial language of the many artists represented.

(Suite de l'article dans la version imprimée de Vie des arts)