Supremely gifted as a draftsman and fascinated from an early age by the highly linear art of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Pablo Picasso made line drawings at every stage of his career, adapting them to the dazzling variety of styles and themes he developed. As the artist himself once remarked, recognizing the essential role that this fundamental practice played in his work, “Line drawings are the only ones that cannot be imitated.” Museums in the past have presented exhibitions focused on Picasso’s drawings—but the Menil Collection is the first to provide a full-scale exploration of this distinctive aspect of his art, in the exhibition Picasso: The Line.
Presented exclusively at the Menil Collection, where it will be on view from September 16, 2016 through January 8, 2017, Picasso: The Line is organized by guest curator Carmen Giménez, founding director of the Museo Picasso Málaga, whose previous exhibitions have included the groundbreaking Picasso Black and White (2012-13) for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Clare Elliott, Assistant Curator at the Menil Collection, has managed the exhibition on behalf of the museum.
David Breslin, the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Chief Curator of the Menil Drawing Institute, said, “By working with Carmen Giménez to present Picasso: The Line, we are giving the public a thrilling opportunity to explore a major aspect of Picasso’s work, while underscoring the longstanding commitment of the Menil Collection to drawing as a distinct art form, which brings viewers close to the movement of an artist’s mind. This exceptional exhibition brings together line drawings from all of Picasso’s most important periods and shows the extraordinary range of media in which he made these works, from pen and pencil to charcoal and papier collé.”
Picasso: The Line will present more than 90 works on paper from public and private collections in the United States and Europe, dating from 1901-02 (shortly after Picasso settled in Paris) through 1969, not long before his death in 1973. The exhibition includes seldom-seen drawings by Picasso from the Menil’s holdings, as well as works on loan that have never before been exhibited in the United States.
Carmen Giménez said, “Picasso has long been recognized as a master across disciplines and one of the most accomplished draftsmen of the last century. This exhibition will explore how he followed up on the groundbreaking lesson of Ingres, trying to resolve the three dimensions of form with merely a linear arrangement, thus relinquishing perspective. The first exhibition to fully examine Picasso’s line drawings, it will convey the critical position that these powerful works hold within his oeuvre.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue with essays by Giménez, David Breslin, and Clare Elliott
Picasso: The Line is generously supported by Janie C. Lee and David B. Warren; the Susan Vaughan Foundation; Clare Casademont and Michael Metz; and the City of Houston.