This spring/summer, Tate Modern is showcasing ‘Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy’. A journey through Picasso’s so-called ‘year of wonders’, the exhibition tracks the artist’s changing style and inspiration across an intensely creative period in his life.
The Conran Shop has more connections to the modern master than you might think. To celebrate the exhibition, we visited ‘Picasso: Love, Fame, Tragedy’ – taking a special padded guest with us – and uncovered some unique Conran connections to Pablo himself, as well as putting the spotlight on Jules Pansu’s unique Picasso cushion covers, available online and in-store now.
The first solo Pablo Picasso exhibition ever to be featured at Tate Modern, ‘Love, Fame, Tragedy’ features over 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures, alongside a rare stripped-back glimpse into the painter’s personal life.
Having risen from poor Spanish migrant to an international art superstar, Picasso’s fiftieth year was a fork in the road; in one direction, he was inundated with requests to allow retrospectives of his work, in the other, critics debated whether he was an artist of the future, or whether his time had passed.
Feeling restless and cast aside, Picasso experimented with sculpture, purchasing a mansion in Normandy for the purpose and a studio in Paris where he frantically painted and worked. He famously dabbled in Surrealism, while his themes across the year moved from ambitious, ecstatically sensuous works into more ominous paintings as 1932 drew to a close.
‘Love, Fame, Tragedy’ draws this emotional voyage into clear focus, presenting rooms that juxtapose portrait studies, all painted in quick succession, of Picasso’s lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, allowing spectators to directly compare the stylistic details between them for the first time ever.
Later in the curation, his engagement with surrealism is closely examined, a historic retrospective of his work from June 1932 is accurately recreated, before the exhibition moves into the end of the year when Picasso’s work took a dark turn towards religious themes.
‘Love, Fame, Tragedy’ is a view into Picasso’s evolving style, which retained his inimitable aesthetic despite the fluctuating themes and moods of his work, proving that his critics were wrong about him being an artist of the past, as the visionary himself said:
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso
TERENCE & PICASSO: A Surreal Encounter
Conran legend has it that when Sir Terence was designing in a workshop with Eduardo Polozzi as a 21-year old art school graduate, he had designed a statement chair that ‘went against standard dining chairs’, which soon became an in-demand piece among his friends.
As Terence explains, “a friend of mine wanted one for his girlfriend in the south of France, so he took it out to her. When he returned he came to see me, quivering with excitement. ‘You’ve had an order for two of your chairs,’ he said. Someone came to the apartment, saw the chair and said he liked it. He wanted two.’ I asked who this person was. ‘Picasso’, said my friend. ‘It’s Picasso.’”
“He bought it because it reminded him of one of his paintings I’m told – he liked it because it was his aesthetic. Incredibly thrilling – to me, to have Picasso buy a chair from you, it was better than the Housekeeping Seal of Approval”. Sir Terence has since expressed regret that Picasso paid for the chairs in cash and not with a sketch or painting in return as he is a long-time fan of the painter, citing him in many of his own books including the most recent volume, My Life in Design.
“Many of Picasso’s works fill me with the same sense of delight, filled as they are with freedom, colour, humour and life. And so evocative! A bottle of Vieux Marc on a table (I can taste it), a guitar off to one side, a copy of Le Figaro.” – Sir Terence Conran.
For your very own Picasso piece, look no further than Jules Pansu’s artisanal cushion covers. Officially authorised by the Picasso Foundation, each cover is emblazoned with a Picasso portrait or abstract work.
Designed in Paris, the cushion covers are painstakingly produced using an age-old method on Jacquard looms in Flanders, northern France, uniting traditional artisan practises with iconic artwork.
Exclusive to The Conran Shop in the UK, shop the Jules Pansu Picasso Cushion Cover collection online now.
‘Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy’ will be on display at Tate Modern until 9th September 2018.