This January I joined the Museu Picasso to take over the running of Public Programmes, the department responsible for cultural and educational services and the web. I’m really excited about joining the team here at a time when the Museum is so full of energy and plans for the future, and it’s very rewarding to know we are contributing to its evolution through our knowledge, imagination and work. I’ll be keeping you up to date on developments in the department and the work of the team.
I want to tell you now about one of the first activities I’ve been involved in here, the collaboration between the MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona) and the Museu Picasso in relation to the retrospective exhibition of work by Canadian artist Rodney Graham at the MACBA.
In his appraisal of Rodney Graham’s career, Bartomeu Marí, Director of the MACBA, emphasizes his exploration of the conventions of contemporary art, such as those that have to do with the figure of the artist. He has often included himself as a figure in his works, depicting stereotypes of artists in sophisticated settings. Among other conventions he has addressed are those that come to light in the contrasting of high culture and popular culture, which sometimes feed into one another and mirror wider social and cultural conventions.
The exhibition, curated by Friedrich Meschede, is articulated into a series of areas: a library/archive zone that explores the artist’s engagement with literature; an installation that, evoking the title of the exhibition, Through the Forest, presents light as an element of salvation; several rooms devoted to Graham’s photographs, films and videos, some of which have not been shown for many years, dealing with instances of appropriation and relation between popular and high culture, and a section that explores identity and the figure of the artist. The exhibition concludes with the series of paintings Picasso, My Master, from 2005: a process of reflection on the limitations of conceptual art, the field in which he has always inscribed his work, Graham began to explore the languages of painting, taking as his referent the work of Pablo Picasso.
Where this exhibition ends, another proposal begins, this time at the Museu Picasso. Starting from the idea of a dialogue with works by Picasso, Graham has created Possible Abstractions, a specific project for the Museum. On the basis of a comic strip from a 1950s magazine that touches on questions about the meaning of contemporary art and stereotypes in avant-garde art, the artist takes a decidedly ironic and humorous look at the language of abstraction, invoking too the drawings that Pablo Picasso did on the pages of similar magazines, a number of which are in the Museu Picasso collection.
This is a new venture for us, the first time we have included work by a living artist in the programme of the Museu Picasso, and we are very happy to have done so in association with the MACBA and with the personal involvement of Rodney Graham. We hope you’ll come and visit the show and we would love to hear your comments.
What do you think about the Museu Picasso showing work by living artists?