Acrobats and a Bull
Last Thursday was a doctor visit day and I like to spend some time in the Museum of Fine Arts. There is always something new and interesting to see and sometimes just walking through the galleries in a different direction yields something exciting. It has been a long time since I’ve been in a museum–thanks to the pandemic—and I was eager to see the Calder-Picasso exhibit.
It was beautifully displayed; the huge mobiles hung from the main gallery space as well as most of the downstairs gallery rooms. It was something that was difficult to photograph although I gave it a try.
Calder’s work began with small figures constructed of a very thin wire; some with a single piece. One grouping was of acrobats—and reminiscent of the French exhibit of the people dissected and posed but without the odor of formaldehyde. The pieces grew larger and suggested foliage and vines and airplanes. PIcasso used a heavier wire for his pieces; and the two of them both worked with folded metal sheets.
Picasso also did a series of lithographs featuring a bull. The series began with a simple line drawing reminiscent of the cave drawings and progressed to a fully modeled bull. or perhaps it began with a fully muscled creature that was pared down to a simple line image.
Of note, Picasso was most fascinated with his masculinity as that anatomic part was frequently exaggerated in size–perhaps envy on his part.
of interest also was the concept of an initial sketch of the final sculpture.
Thinking in 3-D and in motion is not an easy task. I thought Statics was a fun mathematical challenge but then when I had to think about those stationary items moving—the math was easy, the concept difficult. Picasso was able to converse equally in 2-d and 3-d formats; and Calder in 3-d and in motion.
It was an exciting and overwhelming exhibit in the complexity of display. Here are a few more images–a taste of what was there—but the magnitude and airiness of the pieces is something not captured in photos.
Pay no attention to the man with the immense granite marble.
Picasso and the bull reminds me of something he said about his abstracted bulls (and I paraphrase): you can’t draw an abstract of something unless you can draw an accurate representation of it first. That thought has really stuck with me.