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Picasso's Black and White Masterpieces on Display at the Guggenheim

By DNAinfo Staff on October 4, 2012 3:55pm

UPPER EAST SIDE — Some of Pablo Picasso's never-before-seen black and white paintings are going on display at the Guggenheim Museum Friday.

Picasso's 118 paintings — as well as select sculptures and drawings — will be on display at the Guggenheim Museum from Oct. 5, 2012 until Jan. 23, 2013, in a show that's the first of its kind to show a continuous chronology of all of Picasso's most important black-and-white works from 1904 until 1971.

Some have never been put on view for the public, and at least 30 of the works have never been seen in America, said Richard Armstrong, director for the Guggenheim.

The sole missing piece is "Guernica," which depicts Picasso's response to the bombing of a Basque village during the Spanish Civil War, organizers said. 

Carmen Gimenez, curator of 20th century art at the Guggenheim, explained that while Picasso is associated with a bright, primary palette, the black and white color scheme speaks to the Picasso's desire for intensity, not his or her mood.

Indeed, Picasso worked with black, white, and gray throughout his whole life, she said. 

"Black and white tend to be used in ambitious, complex compositions such as 'Guernica,'" Gimenez said. 

She also said that Picasso's work falls into line with Spanish masters, such as Velasquez and El Greco.

Like them, Picasso was particularly inspired by chiaroscuro — the dramatic interplay of light and shadows — and perhaps cared more about that than classic painting's focus on perspective. 

Included in the current exhibition are several works related to "Guernica," as well as the World War II-themed "Charnel House" and nods to art historical masterpieces such as a Eugene Delacroix-inspired "Rape of the Sabines."