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The genius of Pablo Picasso is on full display in Florence

by Andrea Carli

The genius of Pablo Picasso is on full display in Florence. One of the greatest masters of 20th century painting (Malaga 1881-Mougins 1973) is the focus of an exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi: “Picasso e la modernità spagnola” (“Picasso and Spanish modernity”).

The exhibition's aim is not only to show the work of one of the most prominent creators of Cubist art (going through the four phases of Cubism including the Analytic Phase, then the Synthetic Phase) but also Picasso's influence on many other artists such as Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris, Maria Blanchard, Julio González.

The display –which was curated by Eugenio Carmona, a member of the Royal Permanent commission of the national museum Centro de Arte Reina Sofía– features about 90 works, by Picasso and other artists: paintings, sculptures, drawings, etchings and a film. There is plenty of material, thanks to close cooperation between the Palazzo Strozzi's foundation and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Among the pieces on display, there are famous masterpieces such as the Portrait of Dora Maar, the Horse's head and the Painter and the model by Picasso, Siurana, and the Path by Mirò.

Plus, the sketches, the etchings and the preparatory paintings that Picasso used while making his great masterpiece, Guernica.

Picasso's work echoes the history of the 20th century. The Spanish painter constantly wondered what the artist's role in historical tragedies should be (in his case, the tragedies were the Spanish Civil War and the WWII).

In the paintings and drawings shown in Florence one can easily recognize the distinguishing features of his art: the mirroring faces, expression of a new emotional tension, the perpetual chase of a third dimension on the surface of two-dimensional canvas, the erotic metaphors as the best way to create and visualize the world.

And, in the same breath, the use of different languages and codes: the rediscovery of classicality, the surrealist vision, the expressionist tinges, the Cubist structures.

All this happens against a backdrop of experimentation of genres and techniques typical of modern art.

“A painting is never conceived in advance,” Picasso wrote once. “While we make it, it follows the stream and the mobility of thought. When it is finished, it changes again, depending on who is looking at it.[…]A painting only lives through the gaze of its observer.”

(”Picasso e la modernità spagnola”, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, until January 25 2015, adult €10; concession € 8,50; schools € 4,00)