The Guggenheim Museum will present Young Picasso in Paris, an intimate exhibition comprising a total of ten paintings and works on paper executed during Pablo Picasso’s introduction to the French capital. Created over the course of one pivotal year, these works exemplify a period of stylistic experimentation and show his burgeoning mastery of character study. Picasso (b. 1881, Málaga, Spain; d. 1973, Mougins, France) arrived in Paris from Barcelona in autumn 1900, during the final weeks of the Universal Exhibition that included his own art in the Spanish pavilion. The ville lumière, or “city of lights,” captivated, and ultimately transformed, the nineteen-year-old Spaniard. He absorbed everything Paris had to offer over his initial two-month stay and during his return the following May through the end of 1901. Picasso patronized not only the art galleries, but also the bohemian cafés, raucous nightclubs, and sensational dance halls in the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre. These sites of social gathering and the various types of people who frequented them quickly became a primary source of inspiration.
Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of Picasso’s death and “Celebration Picasso 1973-2023” events Worldwide, Young Picasso in Paris will highlight a defining work, Le Moulin de la Galette (ca. November 1900), from the Guggenheim collection. One of his first paintings executed in Paris, and sold by the artist shortly thereafter, Le Moulin de la Galette is also the subject of an extensive conservation analysis and treatment project that will be unveiled with the exhibition. The famous dance hall—formerly a mill engaged in the production of a brown bread, or galette—had also been depicted by such avant-gardists as Ramon Casas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Vincent van Gogh. In his version, Picasso rendered a vibrant and expressionistic frieze of diverse patrons comingling under the dance hall’s electric lights. Among other notable features, Picasso’s painting represents the gender fluidity present in fin-de-siècle Paris, and also foreshadows the social disenfranchisement of the working classes that he brought into sharper focus with his subsequent Blue Period (1901–04). The tragic suicide in Paris of Picasso’s close friend, the painter and poet Carles Casagemas, in February 1901, undeniably impacted this year of artistic and personal evolution as well. All told, his time in Paris left a strong impression; Picasso would settle there in 1904.
Young Picasso in Paris is organized by Megan Fontanella, Curator, Modern Art and Provenance. Julie Barten, Senior Painting Conservator and Associate Director of Conservation Affairs, is leading the conservation research and treatment of Picasso’s Le Moulin de la Galette. The exhibition will be on view from May 12 to August 6, 2023 at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street, NYC.
This exhibition is part of the Picasso Celebration 1973–2023 program, organized with the exceptional support of the Musée national Picasso, Paris.
About the Picasso Celebration 1973–2023
April 8, 2023, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and thus the year will represent a celebration of his work and his artistic legacy in France, Spain, and internationally. The French and Spanish governments wished to mark this transnational event through a binational commission, bringing together the cultural and diplomatic administrations of both countries. The Picasso Celebration 1973–2023 revolves around some fifty exhibitions and events to be held at renowned cultural institutions in Europe and North America that, together, address a historiographical analysis of Picasso’s work. The commemoration, accompanied by official celebrations in France and Spain, will make it possible to take stock of the research and interpretations of the artist’s work, especially during an important international symposium in autumn 2023, which also coincides with the opening of the Center for Picasso Studies in Paris. The Musée national Picasso, Paris, and the Spanish national commission for the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Pablo Picasso are pleased to support this exceptional program.