Picasso’s unfinished Brooklyn commission gets it first exhibition

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Four works by Pablo Picasso: "Pipe Rack and Still Life on a Table" (l-r), "Still Life on a Piano", "Nude Woman", and "Reclining Woman on a Sofa"). New York now has its first exhibition on a Brooklyn borough commission never completed by Spanish artist Picasso.

New York (dpa) – In 1910, an art collector based in New York tasked a then young Pablo Picasso to supply him with Cubist paintings to hang in his library.

The Brooklyn-based collector Hamilton Easter Field had known Picasso from Paris and wanted to sponsor 11 specially made panels from the rising Spanish star of the art world.

No commissioned work ever made it to Brooklyn.

Picasso, who never travelled to the US himself, did, however, work on the commission in his Paris studio. And yet he was unable to finish it before Field’s death in 1922.

A century later, the first exhibition on these unfinished works is being held in the New York borough. “Picasso: A Cubist Commission in Brooklyn ” is on view at New York’s prestigious Metropolitan Museum until January 2024.

The show features historical documents such as Field’s original commission letter, as well as numerous sketches and six central works Picasso made while working on the project.

“The exhibition is the first to present this little-known chapter of Picasso’s Cubist period and provides an occasion to consider Cubism in relation to decorative painting conventions and architectural space,” the show’s curators write.

The exhibition opens amid the conclusion of another major Brooklyn exhibition on Picasso, albeit one that takes a more critical look at the Spanish art legend.

Exhibitions around the world have marking 50 years since the death of Spain’s best-known painter, and theBrooklyn Museum has been shining a spotlight on Picasso’s notorious sexism.

A landmark show from a feminist-critical perspective and curated by Australian stand-up comedian Hannah Gadsby is coming to a close in September.

Countless books and articles have been published on the subject of Picasso’s treatment of women, but only in the wake of the #MeToo movement is the presentation of his works in galleries being widely reassessed.

His depiction of female subjects is now seen as having often been derogatory, while his cubist paintings have been described as dismembering the bodies of women. “Every time I change wives I should burn the last one. That way I’d be rid of them. They wouldn’t be around to complicate my existence,” Picasso once said.

The Spanish-born painter, who later lived mostly in France, is considered one of the most influential and successful artists, the founder of Cubism and a key player in Surrealism.