Page 22 - Studio International - July/August 1967
P. 22

Looking at Picasso's sculptures                                                   relieved occasionally by a device such as the frame
                                                                                       in the Man  of 1958 (Cat. 141), the texture of plaster
                                                                                       cast off corrugated cardboard as in the  Standing
                                                                                       Figure  of 1944 (Cat. 82) and other, pieces, linear in-
                                                                                       cisions on volumes, the varied use of a preformed
                                                                                       material throughout a structure, as in the Construction
                                                                                       in Wire of 1930 (Cat. 26) which could signify an aware-
                                                                                       ness that sculpture might be something more than an
                                                                                       amusing metaphor for the real world.
     Sculptures by Picasso, shown earlier this year at the Petit Palais, Paris, are now   Nöemi Gerstein
     on exhibition at the Tate, and will be shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York,
                                                                                       I started with the sculptures, and as I entered the
     this autumn. Rather than contribute to the massive general coverage of Picasso's
                                                                                       room and felt myself surrounded by the works, a
     work which flowed from the Paris retrospectives, Studio International invited three
                                                                                       very important period of my life returned. I was back
     artists - the painter Ceri Richards, the sculptor William Tucker, and the Argentinian   in Paris, in 1951, at the Maison de la Pensée, which
     sculptress Nöemi Gerstein - to comment on his sculptures.                         was holding an exhibition of sculptures by no less
                                                                                       painters than Picasso, Braque and Matisse, sur-
                                                                                       prisingly sculptors all three, and particularly the first.
                                                                                       But I had already received the first impact in the
     Ceri Richards                            outside to pluck a tall flower which he then inserted   summer of 1950 at Vallauris, where I stayed for se-
                                              into the right-hand form of the figure.   veral weeks with some fellow Argentinian friends and
     The Picasso show at the Tate Gallery is magnificent.   The bronze, real as it is, is innocent of that delightful   also the Mexican painter Tamayo and the very Spanish
     The cool environment of light and whiteness has also   performance.               Manolo Angeles Ortiz. On a September morning my
     been designed to give ample space for the exhibits.   The folded découpé divertimenti have now been   friends and I paid a visit to Picasso's workshop and
      The Paris showing of his sculpture might, in com-  given the firmness of folded sheet iron. They still have   were taken round by him. I had met Picasso at the sea-
     parison, have been overcrowded but it was sumptuous   a fragile, delicate character even so. I find them   side, where he was playing with his son Claudio, and
     —it also had a full complement of over 200 drawings   attractive, light-hearted and lovely in colour.   was astounded at the extraordinary vitality which he
     and a larger section of ceramics.         Many artists now work in series in order to discover   always seems to exude. On our tour of the workshop
     I missed seeing the drawings again, although they   possibilities, one way or another, and sometimes in   we saw his latest works; an oil-painting based on
     might have confused the category of sculpture. One   order to establish personal signs. Picasso achieved   El Greco's self-portrait, his small children Claudio and
     can feel the proliferation and the serial element in the   this years ago. We can see how the improvizations   Paloma, a remarkable cockerel, pottery in the course
     drawings and how it discovered for him the experience   match the character of his temperament. Because of   of completion, and even the hearth for baking.
     of possibilities, such as preparations for a later   the use of the pleasure principle his work has a   That day I had two particular experiences which
     moment of something more substantial in other   magical quality.                  affected me profoundly. On opening the door to one
     mediums, for example, the l'Homme au Mouton is like                               of the rooms, Picasso announced 'mes potteries
     a gigantic wash drawing which has spontaneously   William Tucker                  grecques'. There were long rows of pottery with
     emerged in a solid form out of the great number of                                black and white designs on red earthenware, a hand-
     drawings which have explored the feeling and design   The exhibition has the quality of a vast hoard of   some collection indeed which I sought in vain at the
     of this motive. It has the same momentousness and   numbered trivia, the pedantically inventoried accu-  Petit Palais and have never seen again, even in
     experience existing in the drawings, and, of course,   mulation of a human magpie. It is art out of art with a   reproductions, since that day at Vallauris.
     we are told it was made in one day.      vengeance: African and Egyptian carving, Greek pots,   The second experience was when, for the first time,
     All the different phases of his sculpture have pro-  Matisse, etc, etc, are given the master's touch, and   I came face to face with that monumental goat (and
     duced superb individual pieces. I have always admired   transformed into banal curiosities.   by monumental I am not referring to its size), the
     the iron constructions of 1929-31. There are three   Only, drab and modest, the collages (cat. nos. 243,   bronze version of which now looked down at me and
     magnificent works here, especially the superb Woman   244, 245) and the constructions that developed from   which then, in its recently completed state, had held
     in the Garden.  I remember seeing the Woman's Head   them (cat. nos. 18, 19, 20, 21, 23) have a tautness, an   between' its plaster haunches everything Picasso had
     (no. 57) from the Boisgeloup period in the Paris   intensity, which indicate their source in a struggle   been able to lay hands on and use in the ensemble:
     Exhibition of 1937, when it was exhibited with the   with actuality: to give a constructed world the com-  wicker -baskets, terracotta jars, lids of tins, shafts of
     Guernica. Also another large concrete sculpture of a   pleteness and variety of the real. These structures   palm leaves and a host of other objects which I was
     woman holding a vase, which I have not seen since.   are utterly unimpressive as images (in reproduction   only able to recognize after a while, having forfeited
     These are amongst his very fine monumental works.   they lose, where practically everything else Picasso   their identity on becoming embodied in that sculpture.
     Picasso's incredible audacity in the use of mixed   has done is enhanced) but their physical presence   Nearby, then in plaster, now in bronze, The Pregnant
     media of objects and trivia is fascinating, but I find   asserts an autonomy, an internality, that corresponds   Woman, a figure as monumental in its assertion as
     that the resulting image when translated into bronze   to their historical importance.   El hombre del cordero which I also saw that summer
     is often disappointing, for the consistency of the same   There is little indication here that Picasso ever again   when it had just been planted, like a tree which has
     material seems to reduce and change the character   caught up with the revolution in sculpture he initiated.   taken root, in Vallauris' delightful little square.
     of the image. I think that the spontaneity and per-  Sculpture demands a submerging of the artist's   Going now through these rooms and seeing his
     formance which brings these things together is very   identity in a continued relation with the world as   bristling cats, his bronze cockerels, his welded iron-
     important, and it would be marvellous to see these   substance, the nature, of process and the nature of   work, his excellent bathers made with old timber and
     metamorphic assemblages in their initial guise.   matter, that Picasso was unwilling to attempt. Others,   broom handles, or his tentacular nudes, and those fat
     Some of them, of course, would be fragile and im-  of less facile talent, and less sublime confidence,   women with small round heads, those assemblies of
     permanent but Picasso may not have meant them to   without that need to impress an audience, stimulated   cones and spheres, that bicycle seat and crank handle
     be otherwise. The skill and wit is always delightful.   by him or plundered by him, Gonzalez, Laurens,   or those small duplicated toy cars which only needed
     Maybe they are like happenings that should not have   Calder, Smith, lost themselves, put themselves at   to be taken out of anonymity to become sculptures,
     been made into such permanent things.    risk in sculpture to a degree Picasso never allowed   we experience the outbursts of an unbounded genius
     I feel disappointed in The. Child Skipping  bronze,   himself to do after 1915; their achievement will come   who has not allowed a single idea to pass by without
     because I remember seeing a photograph of this work   to be seen as central, his as marginal.   taking pleasure in bringing it to fulfilment.
     in the course of construction which gave one such a   The concept of the artist as performer cannot be   If we add to this his enormous silhouettes made from
     strong feeling of the imaginative use of very different   reconciled with the concept of the autonomy of the   cement, his murals drawn on cement with a paint
     materials and objects.                   object. In Picasso the relation of the object to the   sprayer or his designs in space with moving lights for
     La Madame (no. 77) recalls for me a Picasso film in his   world depends solely on likeness, and the recognition   one of his films, we can only conclude by re-stating
     Vallauris studio where he assembled this image spon-  of likeness by the spectator. If the reference is re-  the obvious fact that Picasso has opened up all the
     taneously on the floor out of pottery stilts and ceramic   moved or ignored nothing is left but the obsessive   routes which sculptors, even those of the present day,
     paraphernalia, and then after looking at it finally went   and unresolved manipulation of this or that material,   have been travelling for the past fifty years.
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