It’s no secret that Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was one of the most prolific and versatile artists of the 20th century. From his paintings to sculpture and ceramics, his influences crossed media, styles and artistic movements.
His works on paper also notably includes an extensive collection of printmaking techniques. Though Picasso never received formal training in printmaking, his published prints total about 2,000 different images.
The Susquehanna Art Museum has brought a collection of 45 pieces of Picasso’s print work to Harrisburg in “Picasso: A Life in Print.” Featuring work from the collection of the John Szoke Gallery of New York City, this survey of prints spans the artist’s prolific career, with prints spanning from 1904 to 1970.
Walking through the chronological display of “A Life in Print,” one can see the evolutionary journey of Picasso. Though shown exclusively through the print medium, the notable periods of Pablo Picasso’s art can be recognized. From the earliest etchings that exemplify his Blue Period, as seen in “Les Repas Frugal,” to the early cubism in “Nature Morte au Compotier.”
His Neo-Classical work from the post-World War I era is evident in the dry point and etching “Les Trois Femmes,” with ethereal subjects draped in delicate fabric. Picasso’s transition into Surrealism can be seen in “Harpye à Tête de Taureau, et Quatre Petites Filles sur une Tour Surmontée d’un Drapeau Noir,” which captures a mythological creature threatening four young girls.
For any connoisseur of Picasso, not only will the historical periods of his art be evident, but also many of his favorite subjects. Scenes of circuses and bullfights, as well as animals—both natural and mythological—are represented. His ongoing appreciation of women and the female form is also abundantly evident; from portraits in Classical to Surreal style along with his recognizable graceful, delicate nudes.
This exhibition demonstrates Picasso’s lifelong practice of integrally connecting his drawings and prints with paintings of the same period. Imagery from his most recognizable works of art run thorough the breadths of the prints, making many of these pieces seem vaguely familiar to the viewer. While it’s easy to get lost in the awe of being surrounded by such masterful works, it’s important to keep in mind the path through printmaking through which Picasso is leading his viewer.
His continual exploration and accomplishment over 60 years of every mode of print—etching, sugar-lift aquatint, lithographs, linocut, etc.—is staggering. His use of such a broad spectrum of printmaking techniques demonstrates his intuitive ability to master the possibilities of any medium, once again affirming Pablo Picasso to not only one of the greatest artist of his generation, but also of all time.
“Picasso: A Life in Print” is an exhibition that excites, intrigues and does not disappoint. Since this is a season known for its summer blockbusters, the Susquehanna Art Museum has produced one not to be missed.
“Picasso: A Life in Print” is on view at the Susquehanna Art Museum at The Marty and Tom Philips Family Art Center through Sept. 22. This exhibition is made possible by the generous sponsorship of The Anne M. and Philip H. Glatfelter III Family Foundation, Highmark, Jack and Carol Scott, Faulkner Subaru and media sponsor WITF.
The museum is located at 1401 N. Third St., Harrisburg, and is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, with extended hours on Wednesdays until 7 p.m., as well as from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Free parking is available in the lot immediately adjacent to the rear of the museum at Calder and James streets.
General admission is $8;$5 for teachers, seniors and veterans; free for children younger than 12. For additional information on the museum and the exhibition, visit its website at www.susquehannaartmuseum.org.