Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Of Picasso, peace pigeons, scapegoats and skulls,

We have had a brilliant day pottering around the Albert Dock in glorious sunshine and bracing wind. Mainly we've spent the day at the Tate Liverpool. We went to see the special Picasso Peace and Freedom exhibition which is on until the end of the month. It was very good. Great fun to read the old issues of the French communist newspaper l'Humanité which formed part of the focus on Picasso and peace.
I was intrigued and shocked by the obsession with death and sex in many of the images, but given the experience of war, the occupation and the Spanish civil war this is not surprising. The dead cocks representing France, the goats heads and skulls, the skulls, bodies lying in disarray, the destruction and in justice of war ...
And then the doves, all of these pretty doves - though I rather liked a quote from Picasso himself saying why are these birds symbols of peace when they are so vicious. Yet these symbolic drawings, and there were many, many of them - became as much part of his legacy as the iconic cubist work. Fascinating as the exhibition was I felt the focus on peace and freedom seemed to make the curators put on rose-tinted specs when it came to some of the more questionable sides of the great artist's life - especially his treatment of women.
Anyway, we enjoyed looking at the Picasso designs for the various peace conferences and also the way he reworked other artist's work - Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe for instance.
So many striking images and much thought-provoking content and I left wondering - perhaps a little cynically - whether an artist who courts publicity can be truly free ...
Find out more here.