Master conference Jaume Sabartés: Yve-Alain Bois, "Picasso and abstraction"

Thursday March 12th 2015, at 7.00pm

Yve-Alain Bois
Picasso and abstraction

The second edition of the annual cycle of master conferences in homage to the founder of the Museu Picasso, Jaume Sabartés, in which the result of recent studies will be presented about the work of Picasso given by internationally recognised historians. This conference is programmed for the Thursday following March 9th, the date of the anniversary of the museum.

Picasso and abstraction

Pablo Picasso's loathing of abstract art is well documented. He did not speak of it often, but when he did, it was either to dismiss it as complacent decoration or to declare its very notion an oxymoron ("There is no abstract art. You must always start with something.") The root of this hostility towards abstract art is to be found in the impasse that the artist reached during the summer 1910, spent in Cadaquès. Tempted for two months by the possibility of abstraction as the logical development of his previous work, Picasso recoiled in horror when he returned to Paris. But though he swore to never go again near abstraction, he could not prevent himself from testing his resolve from time to time. The paper will examine several encounters, or rather false encounters, of Picasso with abstraction. A particular emphasis will be placed on the supremely series of collages and canvases dating from the Spring of 1913, at a time when Picasso was taking stock of the major syntactic discovery that his 1912 sculpture Guitar represented for him, and on the series of paintings on the theme of the Studio, dating from 1928, in which he seems to be responding to the work not only of Matisse, as often (and rightfully) assumed, but also of Mondrian. The talk will also discuss the way in which pioneers of abstract art (Mondrian in particular) thought of their own art as the continuation of Picasso's.

Yve-Alain Bois

Yve-Alain Bois is Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has written extensively on 20th century art, from Matisse and Picasso, Mondrian and Lissitzky to post-war American art, particularly Minimal art. A collection of his essays, Painting as Model, has been published by M.I.T. Press in 1990. He co-organized the 1994-5 retrospective of Piet Mondrian in The Hague, Washington and New York. In 1996, he curated the exhibition "L'informe, mode d'emploi" with Rosalind Krauss at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Other exhibitions that he curated include "Matisse and Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry" at the Kimbell Museum of Art (Fort Worth, Texas); "Ellsworth Kelly: Early Drawings" at the Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Mass); "Ellsworth Kelly: Tablet," at the Drawing Center (New York), and the Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (May-October 2002); and "Picasso Harlequin" (October 2008-February 2009) at the Vittoriano in Rome. Bois is one of the editors of the journal October and a contributing editor of Artforum. Among other projects, he is currently working on the catalogue raisonné of Ellsworth Kelly's paintings and sculpture.

  • Thursday March 12th 2015, at 7.00pm
  • Lecture hall
  • Museu Picasso
  • Plaça Sabartés 1
  • The lecture will be delivered in English
  • There will be a simultaneous translation service to Catalan and Spanish

Free admission until capacity is complete