Renowned for his insatiable curiosity and tireless urge for creativity, the Lightbox gallery and museum is proud to present for the first time ‘Picasso: Paper & Clay’ (17 March 2018 – 24 June 2018). Showcasing work spanning almost seven decades of Pablo Picasso’s career, the exhibition will demonstrate his complete sense of liberation and experimentation across mediums.
The exhibition focuses on two areas of his creativity, works he produced on paper and in ceramic, celebrating the mischievous genius who loved to break through conventional boundaries of medium and genre.
Throughout Picasso’s life, the prolific artist created a vast array of hand drawings. From a pastel drawing he created as a teenager, to a major preparatory study made in 1937 for the painting Guernica, to a dextrous ink drawing made in 1971 at the age of 89, this exhibition will show the extraordinary range of his achievement over a period of seventy years.
Works on paper also extend to examples of Picasso’s experimental printmaking. He was imaginative towards traditional techniques and able to coax new and inventive methods. For Picasso, printmaking was not simply a way of reproducing images, it was a creative process in its own right. He often developed ideas through the process of printmaking, before introducing them into his painting. Examples in the exhibition date from his first etchings made in 1905-6, known as the “Saltimbanques Suite”, to the “156 Series” of aquatints made 1970 – 1972.
Picasso spent many summers in the 1940s on the Cote d’Azur in the south of France and in 1946 visited the annual pottery exhibition in the nearby village of Vallauris. Impressed by the quality of the Madoura ceramic, Picasso was welcomed into their workshop and offered open access to the tools and resources needed to express his creativity. Thus began a collaboration which lasted almost 25 years. During this time Picasso produced more than 4,000 different plates, bowls, vases, pitchers and other forms. In all, he designed 633 different ceramic limited editions.
From the late 1950s, visitors to Vallauris were able to visit the Madoura ceramic studio and purchase original Picasso ceramics. This included British actor Richard Attenborough and his young family, who returned each year for family holidays and purchased Picasso pieces over a period of almost twenty years. The Attenboroughs built up a collection of over 250 pieces, the bulk of which have been subsequently bequeathed to the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester. These works now represent the largest single public collection of Picasso ceramics in the UK.
The Lightbox has collaborated with the New Walk Museum to borrow a substantial number of ceramic pieces in this exhibition, as well as loans from the Victoria & Albert Museum and private collections. Collectively, they provide examples of Picasso’s work spanning 70 years of his life, proving his boundary-pushing creativity in drawing, printmaking and ceramics.