When the plasma designer Paul Smith was asked to decorate the walls of the Picasso Museum in Paris to organize the permanent collection, he decided that he had better take it easy and with a hint of British humor.
The museum with the largest collection of works by the Spanish painter has decided to renovate its stage and add new perspectives, as part of its activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Paul Picasso.
At 76 years old, Paul Smith wanted to paint the walls, either with stripes (one of his favorite motifs for designing clothes) or with motifs reminiscent of the old walls of a hundred years ago.
For a room that exhibits the best examples of the blue painter from Malacca, nothing is more simple than the light blue.
To bully motives, bloody red. Harlequins, giant diamonds.
“Carte blanche, what he wanted to do for the whole museum, which of course is fantastic, but also terrible,” Smith told AFP.
He began designing the project five years ago, and Smith used it to explore the museum’s archive, with nearly 200,000 works and objects of all kinds.
The result is a visually fascinating recreation of the world of Picasso, a cross between the excessive Spanish power with the slime and irony of Smith, due to the austerity and touch of humor in the window dressings.
Faber brought to light, among other things, a series of publications that Picasso enjoyed decorating his paintings with some of those indecencies. For example, painting demons with long sexes next to angelic figures in clothing models from the 50s.
“Picasso has never been there yet,” explains Smith. “I would draw from magazines, linens, newspapers. I was constantly thinking about how to create forms,” he explains.
– Stars like bull’s heads –
In another part of the room, Faber looks at the famous bicycle seat that Picasso recreated on one wall, decorated with loops arranged in the shape of the horns of a bull, with a series of white seats on the other side of the room, except for one, colored. .
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“The way he thought about things was fascinating and very interesting,” explains the designer.
“I did something very decorative, because the idea is that students and young people come to see their work from a different side,” he adds.
The exhibition also features works by six other artists, including a painting by New Yorker Thomas Mickalene in dialogue with Picasso’s World War II-era works.
“To remain in the fashion world as an independent firm… You have to constantly question yourself, re-evaluate, and that’s probably why they asked me to be in charge of this show,” he reasoned.
– ‘Not a mausoleum’ –
Picasso’s story, the great presence of his works around the world, his visual power, force him to constantly rethink the work of his muse, explains its director Cécile Debray to AFP.
“The function of this museum is not a mausoleum for a great man,” he adds.
“We want to open debates and reflections on Picasso, to reconsider his work and to demonstrate his continued enthusiasm,” he said.
Smith’s playful tone doesn’t stop him from raising thorny questions, however. The exhibition exposes the misogynist accusations of the most misogynistic aspects of Picasso, but rather the criticism of African artists.
Congolese Cheri Samba and Nigerian Obi Okigbo address these criticisms of their works.
However, Picasso often publicly expressed his admiration for the “primitive” art of the time.
Paul Smith believes that Picasso was simply a man open to all possibilities.
“He never hesitated to admit that he had borrowed from Cezanne or the classics like Manet,” says Cicero. “Many creators today never admit their talents.”