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
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 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.
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.
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.