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Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Picasso Portraits

Our family visited Picasso Portraits, an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London. In a special guest post, D describes the kids’ take on Picasso.

 

The Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery was, for me, a unique experience. That singularity didn’t lie in the portraits themselves (good as they were), but in the fact that for the first time since having children, I actually got to see a full exhibition. I didn’t have to deal with constant demands for snacks, attention, or full- pelt unscheduled toilet dashes through crowds of art lovers.

Instead the kids looked at the pieces in each room before sprawling out on the floor in a quiet corner drawing whatever had caught their eye, using the coloured pencils and booklets provided by the gallery until we were ready to move on. It felt like some kind of miracle, and whilst feeling proud (and let’s face it a bit smug) about this behaviour, I think most of the credit probably goes to Picasso; he seems to be an artist that children naturally warm towards. Here’s how our two interpreted some of the work on show

The Self-Portrait

selfportrait

Left: Self-Portrait with Palette by Pablo Picasso, 1906; Philadelphia Museum of Art: A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1950 © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2016.

Picasso famously stated “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Now it is not for me to say that my daughter is a greater talent than Picasso, but it has only taken her four years to be able to paint like a child, which clearly puts her streets ahead of Pablo. I’ve yet to see her knock out a convincing Raphael, but to be fair I’ve never asked her.

The Muse

Picasso Portraits

Left: Woman in a Hat (Olga) by Pablo Picasso, 1935; Musée national d’art moderne Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d’art moderne / Centre de création industrielle. Legs de M. Georges Salles en 1967 (n° inv. :AM 4393 P) © Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2016

The exhibition was notable for the many portraits of the various loves and lovers of Picasso’s life. One room was dedicated solely to portraits of his first wife Olga, the various treatments telling the story of their deteriorating and doomed relationship. This tireless reworking of one subject is quite literally child’s play to our son,  who has drawn countless versions of his own first love and timeless muse, the ninja.

The Monochrome

dscf0907

we are in the middle of Gwen’s pink period….

In Picasso’s famous blue period, he painted almost exclusively with blue hues for around three years. Gwen’s pink period has been in place for almost two years now, so presumably this is just a phase all great artistic innovators go through. Disappointingly for Gwen, Picasso chose not to work extensively in glitter, and made surprisingly few butterflies using the insides of toilet rolls.

The Cubist   

Picasso Portraits

Left: Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, autumn 1910 by Pablo Picasso, 1910; Art Institute of Chicago © Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2016

By breaking apart his subject and reassembling the image, Picasso was able to represent a multi-faceted view of a single subject, representing the tensions and complexities within the individual. In his neo-cubist masterpiece (above right), entitled simply Parenthood, Austin represents both the united front and the inherent schisms within the parental unit. Mummy and Daddy are represented as a single united figure, but the duality of the structure is clear. This enables him to ask Dad if he can watch telly if Mum has already said no.

Picasso Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery until 5 February 2017. Tickets are £17; under-12s go free. We were given tickets for the purpose of this post.

Wander Mum

23 Comments

  • Sarah Ebner
    November 27, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    This really sounds brilliant -for adults and kids. Love Austin’s in depth Parenthood painting in particular!

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 28, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      Yes, we thought that was particularly inspired!

      Reply
  • Notmyyearoff
    November 28, 2016 at 11:09 am

    What a brilliant place and I love their interpretations. It makes it so much more fun when kids get involved. I’d love to see a Picasso exhibit one day!

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 28, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      It’s there till Feb. You should go, if you get the chance!

      Reply
  • kirstie
    November 29, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Oh this post is ace! Loved their take on the art! It’s a revelation when kids suddenly become engaged isn’t it ? And it happens overnight One moment my youngest was screaming the place down in front of Van Goch’s sunflowers and the next she was admiring Gaudi’s mosiacs at Park Guell and wonderign about making her own bench!

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      I/m hoping the process will carry on and they’ll grow to appreciate art even more – rather than turn into stroppy teenagers who refuse to go to a gallery!

      Reply
  • Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays
    November 29, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Brilliant! My two were big fans of the art materials when they were smaller.

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Art’s great for kids, isn’t it?

      Reply
  • Mandy
    November 29, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Awesome post! Love the comparison between your children and Picasso. Clearly you are raising (well behaved!) artists! 🙂

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Well they’re not always this good, but there’s hope for the future!

      Reply
  • Emma Raphael
    November 30, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I love Picasso, and this sounds like a really great exhibition! We have always treated going to an art gallery as a normal part of life, so like yours, mine are happy to sit and draw or listen to any audio guide which is always a bonus! 🙂 x

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Yes, we’ve always gone regularly too. Nice thing to do as a family.

      Reply
  • Pattertravelers
    December 1, 2016 at 3:48 am

    Ah yes, the famous ask daddy if mummy said no. Brilliantly captured!. It’s so nice to be able to take your time and not have to rush through an exhibit.

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      I know. A rare treat!

      Reply
  • Kat
    December 1, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Brilliant post – it’s great to see the kids enjoying themselves as much as the adults did in the Picasso exhibition. Most children will find art galleries and museums boring but am glad to read that your visit turned out to be interactive for the kids..and relaxing for you 🙂 #citytripping

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Yes, museums and galleries are so much better at catering for kids these days.

      Reply
  • Babes about Town
    December 1, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Haha love this post Nell, made me chuckle and frankly I think your kids’ masterpieces stand up very well against the greats. I’ve been wanting to check out the Picasso exhibition, there are so many amazing shows that come and go through London and I keep missing them! Must get my B-hind over there sharpish x

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      You should definitely go, Uju! x

      Reply
  • Cathy (Mummytravels)
    December 1, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    I absolutely love this post – especially seeing both the interpretations side by side. My daughter is going through her prolific period… we are trying to discourage the glitter period! It’s great when kids get so absorbed too, I know my daughter has been unexpectedly fascinated by art galleries so I think perhaps we should try again. #citytripping

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Ah yes, the prolific period. We have mountains of artwork that I can’t bear to throw out!

      Reply
  • Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net)
    December 8, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Brilliant! Both the artwork, and engaging the young artists. That’s a great way to fire up their imaginations and create life long lovers of, and participants in, the arts. And clearly, Picasso could have used more glitter.

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 9, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Of course. All the best artists do.

      Reply

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