Modern Spanish art near the Alps. Small Swiss museum exhibits bold blend of Picasso, Mir'o, Dali
It has been argued that Picasso is the most important artist of the 20th century. So his paintings quite rightly dominate ``Treasures from Barcelona,'' an exhibit that recently opened here at The Hermitage Foundation. The Hermitage is a delightful gem of a museum, a two-story building of yellow and white stucco that sits in the middle of a spacious garden shaded by huge maple trees. From the windows of this late-19th-century residence one can not only look down the hill to the Gothic church spires that have dominated the city's skyline since the 12th century, but glance across Lake Geneva and see the towering, snow-capped Alps that rise from its southern shore.Skip to next paragraph
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``Treasures of Barcelona: Picasso, Mir'o, Dal'i and Their Times'' is only the second such effort by the Hermitage Foundation, which was established in 1984. The show is made up of 180 paintings, watercolors, drawings and pieces of sculpture. The works on display have been located on three floors, each of which has theme: ``The Dawn of the XXth Century,'' ``The Time of The Avant-Garde,'' and ``The Three Greats After the War.'' In addition to works of Picasso, Mir'o, and Dali, the exhibit includes paintings and sculptures by Cosas, Canals, Nonell, Gargallo, Gonz'alez, Manolo, and Ricart. Many of the items have been loaned by the Museum of Modern Art and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, the Mir'o Foundation, the Museo Dal'i of Figueres, or are on loan from private collections, including those of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and Salvador Dali himself. Picasso
Some 38 of Picasso's works are on display. These range chronologically from his youthful, perceptive self-portrait painted when he was 16, to the pseudo-Cubist ``The Painter'' of 1967, created when the artist was almost 90.
The scope Picasso's oeuvre is so great that we tend to pigeonhole his works into periods and labels without ever realizing that there might be a common thread running through all of them - that one work (even if in a different style) might have evolved out of one from an earlier period. Fortunately the show's curator, Fran,cois Daulte, has made it possible for us to view paintings from these different periods side by side, separated only by the time frames of the three thematic divisions.
As a result of this arrangement, we can see that Picasso's is an essentially sensual reaction to his subjects. He responded to his work through his heart, hands, and eyes, rather than through rational abstractions. Though some of his works show his keen interest in textures and surfaces, they still reveal his extraordinary visual sense, his own personal way of seeing. And although many of his works are abstracted, none is totally abstract. All are variations of what he saw.
From such works on display as his ``Portrait de Jaume Sabart`es `a la Collerette et au Chapeau'' of 1939, it is also apparent that the so-called ``hidden'' symbols all have their meaning, a personal reaction to people, events, and problems of the time.