A photograph of a 1921 painting by Pablo Picasso at the 'Picasso in Fontainebleau' exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York (USA). EFE/Angel Colmenare

A glimpse into Picasso’s creative mind: New York exhibition recreates French garage studio

By Jorge Dastis

A photograph of a 1921 painting by Pablo Picasso at the 'Picasso in Fontainebleau' exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York (USA). EFE/Angel Colmenare

New York, Oct 4 (EFE).- In the summer of 1921, Pablo Picasso spent three months locked inside a small garage in the French town of Fontainebleau, where he created some of his iconic paintings, including “Three Musicians” and “Three Women at the Spring.”

A visitor observes a Picassor painting at the 'Picasso in Fontainebleau' exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York (United States). EFE/Angel Colmenares

The two strikingly different works were created virtually simultaneously as Picasso pursued his creative endeavors inside the French garage.

To commemorate this intriguing period in the artist’s career, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has organized an exhibition titled “Picasso in Fontainebleau,” coinciding with the 50th anniversary of his death in 1973.

The exhibition will open its doors for the public on Oct. 8.

MoMA curator Anne Umland expressed her hope that the exhibition would shed new light on Picasso’s work, emphasizing that there was still much to discover about the genius.

The concept for the exhibition dates back to the 1990s when Umland began her tenure at the New York museum.

“Picasso in Fontainebleau” will showcase many of his French garage works for the first time, including both versions of the Cubist masterpiece “Three Musicians,” “Three Women at the Spring,” and five large, pastel head drawings closely related to his monumental neo-classical artwork.

Among these works, “Three Women at the Fountain” and one version of “Three Musicians,” both part of MoMA’s permanent collection, stand out for Umland.

The other version of “Three Musicians,” typically displayed at the Museum of Art in Philadelphia, will also be on view in New York during the Fontainebleau exhibition.

The notion that Picasso painted both of these masterpieces simultaneously challenges traditional interpretations of the division between modern and classical art, according to Umland.

“I think for my generation the division between the abstract and the figurative is still very present,” Umland told EFE,

Questioning such established notions has become a central part of the curator’s work.

By presenting these works together for the first time since their creation, Umland aims to reveal the complexity of Picasso’s identity beyond the simplistic label of an avant-garde artist.

To immerse visitors in the mindset that led Picasso to create two seemingly contradictory works simultaneously, Umland and her team meticulously recreated Picasso’s Fontainebleau studio in the heart of Manhattan.

They used available photographs of the garage and collaborated with an architect to imagine its dimensions and the positioning of the paintings.

The small room, positioned between the first and second galleries, serves as the centerpiece of the exhibition, allowing visitors to view the canvases’ arrangement as they hung in Picasso’s studio.

The actual paintings are displayed in a larger space nearby, alongside a second version of “Three Women” in red chalk, believed to have been created simultaneously, though no photographs of it exist.

Various smaller works from the same period are displayed around the monumental pieces.

An intriguing series features drawings on paper that Picasso made upon arriving at the house he rented in Fontainebleau, some of which were donated by private collectors.

A plaque next to the sketches bears a quote attributed to Picasso: “There is no abstract art. One must always begin with something, afterwards one can remove all semblance of reality.” The quote succinctly encapsulates the essence of the New York exhibition, which will be open until February 17, 2024. EFE