Sunday, 1 August 2010

Picasso for free

Amazing what you can get for free, sometimes. There were three free dance events recently: I saw two of them and thought they were really outstanding. And now Picasso.

Gagosian is a big international gallery of the Rome/New York/London variety, and the business is selling big international artists. So it's quite wonderful when they put on a free exhibition that, as far as I can tell, isn't aimed at selling anything. Not only that, it's a seriously big and thorough show, almost on the scale the Tate would charge you £10 for. Insurance for bringing together all this work must have cost a small fortune; then there are gallery overheads, not to mention a platoon of black-suited security guards with wires coming out of their ears. & a free coats and bags room.

The gallery is in Britannia Street
, off Gray's Inn Road, five minutes from Kings Cross. The show covers Picasso's 'Mediterranean Years', painting, sculpture, ceramics, prints, drawings, from 1945 to the mid-60s. If you think art should never be playful, you won't like it, but behind the playfulness, in the furious scribbles of the paintings and the endless reinvention, there's an intent and obsession that is more than just playful. & there's a lot of painting, and a lot of sculpture too, much of it previously unseen since it's from private family collections. Rooms and rooms of it. Including the wonderful litho print of a bull or bison, which starts off as solid, realistic; the stone gets re-worked, and stage by stage the prints become a spare linear drawing. I've never seen the originals before. Plenty of people there, kids sitting drawing on the floor, too. I came out feeling I'd had a good holiday, and a lot more besides.

Larry Gagosian started out selling posters in LA in the 1960s. Wonderful; and many thanks!

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