Monday, April 02, 2018

Boisgeloup in the Rain

Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy is a wonderful exhibition, well worth the five stars Laura Cumming gave it in The Guardian.  There are many highlights but I suspect few critics will draw anyone's attention to the presence of five modestly-sized landscapes, painted at Boisgeloup where the artist was staying in the spring of 1932.  I was looking at these earlier today, having walked through relentless rain to reach Tate Modern.  The weather was apt - as John Richardson points out in his biography of Picasso, 'Easter was very wet that year; most of these views are striated with driving rain - an effect that van Gogh had borrowed from Hiroshige - otherwise they are surprisingly prosaic.'  This is certainly true in comparison to the marvellous sequence of Marie-Thérèse paintings Picasso was working on at the time.  As Laura Cumming writes, their 'atmosphere runs from midnight to bright day, across the seasons and centuries from some ancient grove to modern-day Paris. She dreams; he conjures the myths.'  Boisgeloup in the Rain can't really compete with this.

Pablo Picasso, Landscape with Dead and Live Trees, 1919
Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain because image published in 1921)

In 1932 Picasso's creativity was so all-embracing that it seems to have encompassed every genre of art, including landscape.  But I'm not surprised to find, looking back, that this is the first time I have featured him on this blog.  Picasso's attitude to landscape is captured by John Richardson in connection with another of his occasional paintings of the view outside (see above).  This was painted in 1919, shortly after Picasso had completed work on sets for Tricorne for the Ballets Russes.  
'Designing for the ballet had left a theatrical stamp on his perception of nature.  To the right, farm buildings constitute "wings" (as in Tricorne); to the left, two trees cry out to be scaled up, hung on gauze, and used as a repoussoir to imply recession without recourse to perspective.'
Richardson quotes Picasso's dealer Paul Rosenberg, writing to the artist with 'the most inconceivable news' that he had actually managed to sell this painting, 'the one you thought unsaleable, le paysage rousseauiste.'  
'Rosenberg's hyperbole was presumedly supposed to encourage his artist to do more landscapes, because they would appeal to collectors weaned on impressionism.  Rosenberg failed to realize that Picasso was not a paysagiste at heart.  Nature fascinated him, but only insofar as he could bring it within reach and have his metamorphic way with it.'

No comments: