Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Tate Modern + Picasso: Love. Fame. Tragedy.

Picasso embarked on a passionate love affair in 1932 that led to a year of furious artistic creativity, and thus inspired The Tate Modern’s summer exhibition 'Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy', concentrating completely on his output for that one single year. He was playing with shape and colour too, but at the centre of it all was the face and the body of Marie-Thérèse Walter, his new 22-year-old lover. While Walter’s name is not so familiar outside the art world, her face is probably better known, in all its aspects and angles, than that of Picasso himself. Her strong nose has been accentuated in a hundred abstract studies and sculptured heads, many of them included in this show, mixed with family photographs and rare glimpses into his personal life. Although close male friends knew about his secret life and colluded with it, for eight years Picasso successfully hid it from his first wife Olga Khokhlova, the Russian ballet dancer and mother of his young eleven year old son Paulo, maintaining a delicate balance between looking after his family while fully engaged in his steamy relationship with Marie-Thérèse. The exhibition brings these complex artistic and personal dynamics to life with an unprecedented range of loans from collections around the world.

Picasso’s split existence between his homes and studios in his Normandy chateau in Boisgeloup and central Paris capture the contradictions of his life at this pivotal moment: divided between countryside retreat and urban bustle, established wife and recent lover, painting and sculpture, sensuality and darkness. The year ended traumatically when Walter fell seriously ill after swimming in the river Marne, losing most of her iconic blonde hair. In his final works of the year, Picasso transformed the event into scenes of rescue and ruin, creating at the same time an analogy for the thunderclouds gathering over Europe: from the crisis of the Great Depression and mass unemployment, to the rise of Fascism including in his native Spain. The result is a dramatic finale to a year of love, fame and tragedy that pushed Picasso to the height of his creative powers, cemented his celebrity status as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

With a rich industrial heritage, London's Tate Modern is located on the site 
of the former Bankside Power Station

In 1932, Picasso embarked on a love affair that led to 12 months of furious creativity, with the Tate Modern’s 'Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy', concentrating on his output for that single year

Picasso in his studio

Marie-Thérèse Walter in 1928 at Picasso's french Château de Boisgeloup

Russian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova, Picasso's wife and mother of their son Paolo

Seated Woman by Window, Oct 30 1932

Bronze 'Head of a Woman', 1931/32

Reading, January 9, 1932

A young woman photographing Picasso's 'A Young Woman Playing the Mandoline'

The Mirror from March 12, 1932

Nude, Green Leaves & Bust, March 8, 1932

Le Rêve (The Dream), Private collection, January 30, 1932

Picasso's sculpture workshop in the stables at Château de Boisgeloup, 
with Bob, the family’s Pyrenean Mountain dog

Nude in Black Armchair, March 9, 1932

Girl Before Mirror, March 14, 1932

Picasso’s Omelette Tortilla Niçoise 
Serves 4 

Back in 1964, Pablo Picasso shared with Vogue’s food columnist Ninette Lyon two of his favourite recipes: one for Eel Stew, the other for Omelette Tortilla Niçoise. 

6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
4 peppers, red and green
3 tomatoes
2 tbsp wine vinegar
8 large eggs
Salt and pepper

In a flat-bottomed frying pan, heat oil gently, adding the onion, sliced and separated into rings. After 5 minutes, add the peppers, seeded and diced. Mix and cook gently for a few minutes, then slip in the tomatoes, seeded, peeled, and cubed. After mixing and seasoning, cover pan and let simmer over a low flame for 1 hour. Vegetables should not stick. Uncover the pan, pour in the wine vinegar, and let cook until liquid is reduced. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Pour them over the vegetables, mix well, and let the omelette cook gently without touching it. When it is well set, put a big plate over the pan and reverse the omelette onto it, then slide it back into the pan on the other side. Finish over a higher flame until golden underneath. Cut the omelette tortilla like a pie, and serve with a bowl of garlic-mayonnaise seasoned with saffron.

Picasso’s Eel Stew 
Serves 4

6 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp butter
12 small white onions
1 tsp sugar
2 yellow onions, chopped
12 mushrooms
1/3 lb salt pork, cubed
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eels of about 1 pound each, cut into four- to five-inch sections
1 bottle of good red wine
1 tbsp flour
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
Bouquet garni: thyme, bay leaf, parsley, fennel, and a small branch of celery

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan, add small white onions and sprinkle them with sugar. When golden on all sides, cover the pan and cook gently, turning onions carefully from time to time. Be sure they are well caramelized without sticking. After 10 minutes add the salt pork cut in cubes; when transparent, put in the mushroom heads, and let simmer.

At the same time: Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of oil in a casserole. Cover the bottom with 2 chopped onions, minced shallots, garlic, and chopped mushroom stems. Put the bouquet garni in the center and the sections of fish around it. Season and cook gently for 5 minutes, then cover with wine. Bring to a boil, then lower flame as far as possible, to simmer, without boiling, for 15 minutes.

Drain the pieces of eel and place in the frying pan with the small onions. Keep warm over a low flame. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, return to high flame and reduce, uncovered for 5 minutes. Work 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon flour into a paste, and add it in bits to thicken sauce; stir to boiling point before removing from stove. Cover the eel stew with sauce; and serve surrounded by croutons fried in butter.

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