Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds
In the context of the “Picasso Celebration 1973-2023,” this exhibition explores Pablo Picasso’s deep engagement with landscape subjects and his expansive approach to this traditional genre.
Through a selection of more than 40 works spanning Picasso’s full career, Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds, presents this exceptional exhibition filled with works from private collections and international museums together. The dynamic grouping of works in the exhibition offers visitors a window into the artist’s creative process, from his earliest days in art school –1896 when the artist was just 15 years old– to months before his passing in 1973.
Picasso was committed to depicting landscapes throughout his entire life. From his earliest days in art school until the year before his death, landscape remained his prime genre through which he mediated his perception of the world and which shaped his own creative evolution. Landscape served as a catalyst for his formal experimentation, including early Cubism, as a field in which to investigate urban modernity, as an interface between humanity and nature, as a ground for direct sculptural intervention, as a space of personal withdrawal, as an inviting terrain for elegiac scenes, and as a territory of resistance and flight.
Within Picasso’s vast oeuvre, landscapes have received the least scholarly attention. This art-historical dearth notwithstanding, to ignore Picasso’s landscapes is to miss a crucial dimension of his achievement. Landscapes offer the clearest lens for understanding Picasso’s attentiveness to his cultural milieu as well as to his ongoing engagement with art-historical traditions.
This examination of Picasso’s landscapes highlights the artist’s attention to tensions between humanity and nature, and to the changing countryside being reshaped by industrialization. Picasso expressed this awareness throughout his landscape production, beginning early in the 20th century in Spain, where powerful forces of nature met the excitement of urban growth in his paintings of Málaga, Gósol, Horta de Ebro, and Barcelona.
The systematic destruction wrought by World War II and years of occupation color the artist’s Paris cityscapes of the 1940s and the atmosphere of works such as Winter Landscape (1950). Picasso’s grand Côte d’Azur landscapes at the end of his career show the urbanization of a region where, in earlier decades, he had captured the lives of peasants and laborers. The devastation of the Anthropocene and the political rise of the ecological movement in France coincided with Picasso’s last landscape of 1972, an immense work that reads like an epitaph to both his creative and social life.