The Guggenheim Museum was the perfect place for PICASSO BLACK AND WHITE. The creamy white spiral, and the muted grey light filtered through the great central skylight, seemed made for the display of the blacks, whites and greys of the artwork itself. I am glad to have gotten to the exhibit on its final day.
It was a review of some work I have seen before, some I never have, and some that I may have forgotten, but which prompted the act of conscious recollection in the manner of old photographs in an album that one flips through once to get a feel for it, and then again for a deeper experience. The monochromatic palette unified the works – which were in several media – in a way that was beautiful to see and revealing in its chronology and its juxtapositions. It made me think of black-and-white works not in the exhibit, particularly the Guernica, probably the greatest visual artwork of the 20th century, and, by contrast, of the rich colors that characterize the artist’s more general oeuvre.
This was reality shaded and contemplative rather than vivid and sensual, meditative in itself and also open to be meditated upon. I do not mean to say that the exhibit was without wit or levity. Some of the paintings from the ’60s were very amusing – no one renders the essence of a cat at play like Picasso. But it was finally the mute thoughtfulness of the exhibit that made it meaningful, and that I have retained for now, and will into the future.
For information on the Guggenheim, click here.