Picasso - A Year of Inspiration

One of the lovely things about being a designer is that inspiration comes from so many places.  Art in particular is a strong influence and I was excited to see the Pablo Picasso exhibit at the Tate Modern in London.  This exhibition was called Picasso 1932: Love Fame Tragedy, and focused on an especially prolific year for Picasso in which his art reflected developments in his personal life, contemporaries of the time and changing politics in Spain.  I chose a few pieces from this beautiful exhibition that were particularly interesting!

 Picasso 1932 Exhibition Tate Modern London

It seems only fitting that I begin with this first painting of Picasso’s young mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter as she was the subject of the vast majority of his works during the remainder of this year.  Her body is formed by voluptuous curves and a tuft of yellow hair is just visible at the top of the chair.  His wife, on the other hand, was slim, dark-haired ballerina Olga Khoklova, and as she was unaware of the affair, the face in the painting is obscured to protect her identity and replaced by a heart. 

 Picasso 1932 Woman in Red Armchair Tate Modern

Woman in Red Armchair, 1932


This next painting called The Rest, although there is clearly nothing restful in this jarring, surrealist painting.  The nude woman’s pale white/pink skin is offset against the smooth blues and greens of the armchair.  Her distorted figure is made even more unsettling by the sharp lines of her hair and the clenched mouth.  The background also reflects the ensuing chaotic energy - seemingly organised on the right hand side and becoming increasingly confused with some parts outlined in bloody red paint on the left.  There are multiple interpretations of this painting, some postulating that it was symbolic of women as the stronger sex, monstrous creatures to be feared. Others that the woman was frightened and in pain in this armchair, which featured in many of Picasso’s works symbolising inescapable death.

 Picasso 1932 Tate Modern The Rest

The Rest, 1932

The last room in the exhibition centred around one theme – a woman being saved from water.  While Picasso was often preoccupied with death as his sister died at an early age, it may have been particularly topical at the end of 1932 when Marie-Thérèse contracted a disease while swimming in infected water. This room explored this subject in various forms and it was fascinating to see the expanse of his imagination as you compare the two works below.  One in which a woman is rescued by another colourful female figure with additional details like flowers and impressions of a field in the background.  On the other end of the spectrum that covers the same subject, are two sensuous, abstract figures with swirling lines and a very simple colour pallet and stark background.

Picasso 1932 Tate Modern The Rescue

The Rescue, 1932

 Picasso 1932 Tate Modern The Rescue

The Rescue, 1932

There are so many beautiful and interesting works in this exhibition that it was very difficult to choose just a few to show here.  The swirling, confident brush strokes and vibrant colourful paintings were a pleasure to see.  There were also some sculptures, drawings, a fascinating study on the crucifixion and so much more.  It will be at the Tate Modern London until 9 September, 2018.