Picasso & Modern British Art
- David Pollock
- 7 August 2012
Feast of a show from the Spanish master and his imitators
Originally seen at Tate Britain earlier this year, this curiously diverse collection benefits from the combining of two major National Galleries’ forces. Whether an exhibition of this kind – examining the personal and influential links between Pablo Picasso and a range of British artists – were really needed is another matter, but Britain’s great cities have never been as well-represented as those on the continent when it comes to carving out a piece of Picasso’s well-travelled legacy for themselves.
Of course, he never remained for long on these shores, and so the resources open to the curators, including costume and set designs for the London-staged The Three-Cornered Hat, are sparse. While it might seem a little shoe-horned, then, the idea of pairing Picasso’s work with a series of British artists of the same era is a nice change from a straight retrospective, and the meticulous curation of numerous rooms over two floors offers a wealth of high-profile and lesser-known pieces. There are comparisons with Duncan Grant and Wyndham Lewis, for example, each of the trio’s works reflecting the growing Cubist influence and a robust mutual sense of confident experimentation.
There is a less obvious pairing with Ben Nicholson and a very fun room showing Picasso alongside Henry Moore, the soft, organic corners of the former’s amorphous paintings and the latter’s sculpture tipping a knowingly referential hat towards classical portraiture. Bacon is also here, albeit briefly, and one tonally bleak room alongside Moore and Graham Sutherland collates responses to the political turmoil of the 1930s, various versions of ‘Weeping Woman’ compensating for only one fragmentary sketch of ‘Guernica’.
Upstairs contributions from the Scots Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde appear, and David Hockney is revealed to be a talented and unashamed imitator and interpreter, while the Tate’s own ‘Three Dancers’ acts as a kind of grand finale to a feast of a show.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 624 6200, until 4 Nov, £10 (£7).