Picasso: A Dialog with the Americas
To mark the 50th anniversary of the “Tribute to Picasso” resolution, this exhibition presents a series of works that touch on Picasso, whether in composition, aesthetic, or simply as a tip of the hat.
Six days after the death of Pablo Ruiz Picasso in 1973, at the age of 91, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the Tribute to Pablo Picasso resolution, recognizing his “enormous influence on the contemporary art of the Americas,” decreeing that a tribute exhibition be held at the OAS with work representing each member state.
The show opened on October 25, 1973 –what would have been the artist’s 92nd birthday– and ran through November 11 of that year. It included 24 works representing the 24 nations that were then OAS members, highlighting contemporary trends that could be traced back to Picasso. Luminaries such as M.P. Alladin (Trinidad and Tobago), Brother Everald Brown (Jamaica), José Luis Cuevas (Mexico), Lola Fernández (Costa Rica), Joseph Jean-Gilles (Haiti), David Manzur (Colombia), Armando Morales (Nicaragua), and Maria Luisa Pacheco (Bolivia) were featured.
Picasso’s Aubade, presented here as a significant work of the Inter-American Development Bank collection, can be viewed as a key work of the German Occupation period, as well as a play on the traditional serenade theme. The work’s claustrophobic setting conveys wartime imprisonment and isolation, while the bird in the seated woman’s stomach represents an internal hope to escape from demoralizing conditions.
Picasso believed all art to be political, and Alejandro Obregon’s (Colombia) Estudiante muerto (El velorio) can be seen as a protest against General Pinella’s authoritarian government (1953-1957) and the police killing of a group of students in Bogota during the protests of June 8-9, 1954. Obregon’s echoes of Picasso take shape as a still life of a dismembered body, crying in pain.
Emilio Pettoruti’s (Argentina) La Ultima Serenata (The Last Serenade, 1937) harkens to Picasso’s Three Musicians (1921), while Carlos Caicedo’s (Colombia) Imitando a Picasso and José Luis Cuevas’s (Mexico) Homenaje a Picasso: Las Verdaderas Damas de Aviñon (Tribute to Picasso: The Real Ladies of Avignon) are presented as overt tributes.
The pioneering modernist Amelia Pelaez (Cuba) broke from the conservatism of Havana’s San Alejandro Academy, and upon her return to Cuba following a period of study in Paris in the early 1930s, she began to disassemble and rebuild Cuban forms and colors, recalling stained glass in her still-lifes, as well as in her occasional human forms, as in Waiting Lady (1944).
An early practitioner of cubism, Carlos Paez Vilar (Uruguay) was a painter, potter, sculptor, muralist, writer, and composer whose relationship with the Pan American Union was cemented in 1960 with the completion of his 525-foot-long Roots of Peace mural connecting the Main Building and the Administrative Building. The artist painted Rodoviario Saltimbanqui during the same year, offering a muted black-and-white color scheme in contrast to the mural’s pastels while incorporating iron wheels over its thickly textured surface.
Alicia Orlandi’s Canto-Monumento a Pablo Picasso is an optically vast kinetic work offering a nod to the imagination of Picasso through the artist’s own lens. Roberto Diago’s (Cuba) Face II was selected from the artist’s 1953 solo exhibition at the OAS (then Pan American Union) from a series of works highlighting heads, faces, angels, birds, musical instruments and musicians that feature the concept of analytical cubism.
This exhibition prepared for the Year of Picasso presents a pictorial and conceptual dialog between Picasso’s work and this small sampling of artists of the Americas, demonstrating a symbiotic relationship and ongoing global aesthetic conversation.
View the exhibition's digital catalog (PDF, 17 MBs).