Picasso: The Last Decades

In the exhibition for Picasso’s last work we are confronted with a number of different aspects of layout. The consideration put into the layout of the exhibition derives from the curator, Terence Maloon.

Terence Maloon says of the approach he took to the exhibition and the layout “I wanted the exhibition to reflect the intensity, the passion, the aggression and the rebellious spirit that Picasso was able to sustain right through his life. That is something absolutely dazzling and inspiring.” In saying this he adds how he wishes not to detract from Picasso’s own work, “A curator offers an interpretation, an interpretation that should be advantageous to the artist.”

As you walk into each room a different sensation of feeling is created through use of colour, layout and the paintings displayed. In each of the seven rooms of display the curator has taken the opportunity to display different paintings that fitted into the different periods of Picasso’s life as an artist. He has changed the lighting and colours for each of these rooms

The first room, ‘Crisis’, the room is meant to reflect a reproduction of Picasso’s studio. The walls in the room are very plain; there are no obtrusive colours from the surroundings so the viewer is not distracted. The displayed artworks were placed at different heights and positions around the room, some being in cabinets and some mounted on the walls. In the ‘Crisis’ room, the colours used are shades of grey and the lighting is very dim. It is a reflection of how Picasso’s life was during this period. Picasso was approaching his 72nd birthday and his life was falling apart. The grey walls represent his feelings of sadness and are also sensitive to the artworks, mainly sketches and drawings, displayed in the room.

The next room you approach when leaving the ‘Crisis’ room is the ‘Jacquiline Room’. This room contrasts with the previous with lighting, the artworks displayed and the colour of the room. The walls reflect a happier Picasso. This is due to his feelings for Jacquiline. A curator, William Rubin, once said “I’m convinced that Picasso would not have lived as long or done as much work if it were not for Jacqueline”. The room is painted in warm yellow colours and reflects his feelings at the time. The lighting again highlights the happier mood created. The artworks are more expressionistic; they have a slight cubist tone to them and are larger and use a wider palate compared to ‘Crisis’. The paintings are situated around the room mounted on walls.

The ‘La Californie Room’ is the next room in succession. There is not much of a change from the ‘Jacquiline Room’ to this room. The colours remain close the only change is the paintings and the style they were painted in. Picasso’s mood has remained happy during this period, a reason why the colours and lighting were not much altered when entering this room. The paintings were again mounted on the walls for the display.

The ‘Old Master Variations Room’ is a change in feeling compared to the previous two rooms. The lighting has been dimmed and the walls are a duller colour to go along with the new mood that is being created. As you walk into the room you are confronted by several lithograph painting mounted on the walls and as you navigate the room the painting are mounted on the walls for the audience to view with ease.

‘Travesties’ is the next room. The paintings again are mounted on the walls so the audience is able to view them easily. This room continues the mood from the previous room.

The room ‘Memory and Desire’ had a slightly depressing mood to it. The walls were tones of grey expressing a pessimistic attitude. The artworks contrast from the previous room with black and white being the predominant tones in the artworks, the rooms’ colours reflect these distorted paintings.

‘Artist and Model’ is a room that is plain compared to the other rooms with the walls left bare from colour and tone. The artworks are displayed again on the walls and one cabinet. The room is meant to reflect the theme of the painter and his model. The room looks vast and bare, more natural looking than the previous.

‘Last Works’ is the final room of the exhibition. These larger paintings are mounted on the walls of the room. The room is brighter than some other rooms and does not hold as many artworks as the other rooms. The room is smaller than the previous rooms.

In each of the rooms a large blurb is close to the entrance of the room printed on the walls. Each blurb is long and in each room is of the same size and font. It contains an explanation of Picasso’s life at the period of the artworks in the room and can give the audience some insight into the mood created by the curator for that particular room.

Next to each artwork is a small sign. The sign illustrates when the artwork was completed, or whether it had been completed, the materials used and the title. The size and shape continued to be the same through each room of the exhibition.

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