Exhibitions: Picasso Zurich exhibition recreates art landmark

Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:25am EST
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By Robert Evans

ZURICH (Reuters Life!) - In September 1932, already a world-famous artist, Pablo Picasso drove from Paris to Zurich for the opening of a mega-exhibition of his works that was to mark a turning point in Western cultural history.

Although he curated the exhibits himself and stayed at a luxury lakeside hotel nearby for two days, hobnobbing with art connoisseurs and critics, he mysteriously never went to see the show at the city's Kunsthaus Museum.

This autumn, and to celebrate its own centenary, the Kunsthaus has recreated the landmark exhibition -- or something under a half of it -- and it has been pulling in the crowds.

For the original, the then already 51-year-old Picasso chose the 229 works himself -- paintings, lithographs and a handful of bronze sculptures -- to be displayed.

"In effect," says Tobia Bezzola who put together the new show, "he curated this one too."

At a time when contemporary art was normally displayed in private and commercial galleries, the 1932 exhibition was probably the first retrospective of a living artist to be put on in a museum, cultural historians say.

Covering the Spanish-born Picasso's output from 1899, when he was an 18-year-old prodigy in Barcelona, through the Pink, Blue, Cubist, Constructivist and semi-Surrealist periods that followed when he moved to Paris at the turn of the 20th century, it set a trend that swept the art world after World War Two and still dominates it.

With its catalogues, in cheap and expensive versions, its posters and press releases, the first Kunsthaus show was a prototype of the art blockbusters that boost revenues for major and minor museums around the world today.   Continued...