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Arts / Museums

Young Picasso Comes to Life at MFAH — the Intrigue of a Legend’s Early Years

A Very Colorful Movie

BY // 08.23.19

An intriguing new release at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will enable viewers to travel in the footsteps of Young Picasso as his creativity blossomed in Spain and France, ultimately revolutionizing the art world.

Focusing on the early career of the great painter Pablo Picasso (1881 to 1973), this Armchair Travel: Exhibition on Screen documentary, directed by Phil Grabsky, will be shown at 2 pm this Friday, August 23 and Saturday, August 24 at the MFAH. Tickets cost $7 for MFAH members and $9 for nonmembers.

After the Saturday showing, you can enjoy a theme-related gallery concert featuring French and Spanish chamber music in the Beck Building, starting at 4:15 pm. The concert is free with general admission to the museum.

The colorful film takes viewers from Picasso’s birthplace of Malaga to Paris via Barcelona and Madrid, guided by art experts and Picasso’s grandson, Olivier, through the artist’s juvenilia, Blue and Rose Periods and “tumultuous” personal life, in a documentary “charged with charm and finesse,” according to The Guardian.

“It’s fascinating to see the loosening of the straits as Picasso moved from traditional figure painting, with its formal compositions, to freer, more radical work with colour and form. You can almost see the Victorian era disintegrating in real time,” Andrew Pulver writes in his review.

Although it covers a comparatively short time period in Picasso’s long career, finishing with the 1907 proto-Cubist “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” the film covers a lot of information. “There’s plenty to chew on here,” Pulver write. The film enumerates Picasso’s various influences, from Ingres to Gauguin to African tribal masks, the critic notes.

“Rarely are we treated to the kind of access provided by the film,” Michael Abatemarco observes in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Pasatiempo magazine. He notes that the documentary takes viewers on a tour through the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Musee National Picasso in Paris, and Museo Picasso Malaga to flesh out the artist’s biography, using curators and art historians from those institutions to provide insight into Picasso’s skills.

Picasso’s early years are often overshadowed by his later periods, but “here, they get their due,” Abatemarco notes.

Further opportunities to explore Picasso’s works are available at the MFAH in the form of five paintings on display in Gallery 227 upstairs in the Beck Building, including a notable piece from the Analytic Cubism period called  “The Rower” (1910, oil on canvas), as well as several interesting works in the “Miss Ima Hogg & Modernism” exhibition of prints and drawings on view now through Nov. 3 on the first floor of the building.

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