Art exhibition review: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy at Tate Modern London

The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy is a must-see retrospective about the Spanish artist suitable for adults and children alike who would enjoy Picasso’s innovative art. 75% of the work shown at Tate Modern between 8 March and 9 September 2018 has never been exhibited in Britain before. It’s worth noting that as many of these paintings come from private collections they won’t be seen together again for a long time. It’s a unique opportunity for anybody to learn about art in a stunning location. 

Image credit: Pablo Picasso – Le Rêve (The Dream) 1932 Private collection © Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2017

Picasso 1932 is the first solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s work ever held at Tate Modern, and one of the most significant exhibitions ever staged at the gallery. It takes visitors on a month-by-month journey through 1932, a time so pivotal in Picasso’s life and work that it has been called his ‘year of wonders’. During this year his paintings reached a new level of sensuality and Picasso cemented his celebrity status as the most influential artist of the early 20th century. In his personal life at this time Picasso kept a delicate balance between tending to his wife Olga Khokhlova and their son Paulo, and his passionate love affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter, 28 years his junior.

The exhibition brings these complex artistic and personal dynamics to life with more than 100 outstanding paintings, sculptures and works on paper which demonstrate his prolific and restlessly inventive character. 

My favourite paintings in this exhibition include: 

Seated woman by a window is a very colourful and hypnotic painting. It has something that inexplicably attracts you to that. You need to see it as this picture does not give it justice.

Some said of Picasso’s art that it was ‘symptom of a mental disorder’ but actually he was only expressing his own interiority, his own being, his inner conflicts – love, passion, his torments as an artist who was looking at things differently. He uses vibrant colours at the beginning of 1932 but towards the end of the year he starts painting women drowning. He had an interest in psychoanalysis and sexuality at a time in 1932 when Freud and Jung were exploring the psyche, the origins, eroticism and death and Psychoanalysis was in vogue. The metamorphosis by Kafka was also a popular book then. 
Le Rêve (The Dream) shows a divided face of a woman resting perhaps after sex as often in Picasso’s painting in 1932.
Girl before a mirror looking at her own reflection is a beautiful painting that was inspired by a long tradition from Goya to Manet.
In the middle of the exhibition there’s a collection of the most famous paintings which were shown in Picasso’s first retrospective on all his career so far in 1932. He was 50 then and had had lots of conflicts in his personal life, the world was in turmoil as well. He refused to categorise his work and when asked how he wanted to be portrayed he responded ‘badly!’.
He curated that himself but on the launch day he went to the cinema. He was eccentric and could allow himself to be extravagant because of his huge talent which was understood during his lifetime – judging from the success that he had also while he was alive and the money he made from his artwork (usually rare for artists). The red room shows some of Picasso’s most iconic artwork including portraits from his blue period, cubism and more traditional work. Picasso was extremely versatile and incredibly talented and was never afraid to experiment with colours, shapes, materials and philosophical ideas. 

If you wonder whether this exhibition would be too explicit for children, I’d say not to worry about it because this is ultimately art and children generally see things differently from adults. They would read Picasso’s art in a way that we would not. Even without knowing the back stories behind every painting and the connections to the love affairs the artist had, the artwork is amazing from the point of view of the innovation and use of colours. Children would only see that aspect of an artwork. 

This exhibition also showcases how fast Picasso could paint such incredible artwork which on postcards or books don’t emerge as being as exceptional as they truly are. It is a truly unique retrospective and I recommend you not to miss it. I will certainly go and see it again before it leaves London! 


Level 3, The Eyal Ofer Galleries
Bankside, London SE1
via the Turbine Hall Entrance

8 March – 9 September 2018


This exhibition is sponsored by the EY Tate Arts Partnership  with additional support from the Picasso Exhibition Supporters Circle, Tate Americas Foundation, Tate International Council, Tate Patrons and Tate Members. Picasso 1932 is organised in collaboration with Musée national Picasso – Paris.

This is the year of the Tate with outstanding and inspiring exhibitions. 

Art exhibition at Tate Britain: Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870-1904)

Impressionists In London, Press View, Tate Britain, October 2017

Art exhibition review: Modigliani at Tate Modern (23 November 2017 to 2 April 2018)

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