Focusing on two of the great artists of the modern period, this exhibition explores Pablo Picasso’s lifelong fascination with the life and work of Edgar Degas. This ground-breaking exhibition examines Degas through Picasso’s eyes and the ways his response varied over time from emulation to confrontation and parody to homage. The Clark is the exclusive North American venue for this exhibition which explores the depth of the Spanish artist’s fixation through dramatic pairings and groupings that have never been brought together in this ambitious way. Degas’s In a Café (L’Absinthe) (1873, Musée d’Orsay) is placed alongside Picasso’s Portrait of Sebastià Junyer Vidal (1903, Los Angeles County Museum of Art); Picasso’s oil on canvas The Blue Room (Le Tub) (1901, Phillips Collection, Washington, DC) is paired with The Tub, (c. 1889, Collection Jacques Doucet, Paris), a monotype by Degas that may have served as a prototype; and Picasso’s 1905 portrait of Benedetta Canals (Museu Picasso, Barcelona) is hung beside Degas’s Woman with an Umbrella (c. 1876, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). The two artists shared a lifelong obsession with women that is seen in portraits of friends and images of singers, ironers, ballet dancers, bathers, and prostitutes. While it is widely acknowledged that these are Degas’s signature themes, all are echoed in Picasso’s work. Usually identified as painters, both Degas and Picasso were innovative sculptors, printmakers, and extraordinary draftsmen, and the exhibition uses the full range of media to examine Picasso’s reaction to the challenge of Degas.
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