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Pairing Picasso

by Anna Barry

Photography by Rebecca Young

As college students, we fantasize about eating a croissant on the Seine River or stepping into the Louvre and soaking up the finer things in life. We have a desire to be “cultured,” yet do not take advantage of the opportunities Boston offers. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) located at 465 Huntington Ave., is only a 20-minute walk from BU and houses one of the largest and most acclaimed art collections in the United States. The “Visiting Masterpieces: Pairing Picasso” exhibit, on display now at the MFA, is the perfect way to immerse yourself in culture things without having to leave Boston.

“The way the museum was set up reminded me of the Louvre,” said Kate Golden (College of the Holy Cross ’19). The wide, sweeping promenades and the shifting wallpaper, reflecting the moods of the paintings on the wall evoke different responses from you as you wander from section to section.

There is no better way to become more cultured than to go to the MFA to see a special exhibit on Pablo Picasso’s paintings. The exhibit is on display until June 26, so grab your friends and head on over to contemplate the evolution of Picasso.

The gallery is small and contained into one room. This cozy environment allows viewers to easily navigate the room and take time to survey each piece on its own and in conjunction with its pair. The MFA makes the exhibit accessible by providing a summary of the pieces and how they are connected next to each pairing, which helps you understand the purpose of each work.

There are four pairs and one trio that make up the exhibit. The curator, Katie Hanson paired pieces that had similar backstories or inspirations. It gives museum-goers the ability to see the same content in two different lights, which makes it easy to see the evolution of Picasso through the same subject.

Picasso was known to tackle the same subject multiple times; it was part of his process. He would take the same thing and manipulate it by transforming the color, shape, facial expressions, etc., in order to show different meanings or as a reflection of his mood or the time period. Pablo Picasso said, “One paints and one draws to learn to see people, to see oneself.” This exhibit creates an opportunity for viewers to see Picasso through the different phases of his career and to allow you to breakdown Picasso’s complex works.

With each piece juxtaposed against one another, it is easy to see the differences in Picasso’s intentions, but it also gives insight into the continuity throughout his career. There are two paintings with the same ancient Roman subject, both entitled Rape of the Sabine Women: one work was in color from 1963 and the other was in black and white, created just one year prior. Although the versions are different in their color and in their portrayal of the event, the pieces both convey a Roman man on a horse looming over a crying woman. The pairings show Picasso’s consistency in distorting the forms of the human body.

One of the pieces that stuck out was a colorful one that resembled a woman, entitled Head of a Woman, Portrait of Marie Thérèse Walter from 1934.

Amy Barry said of the piece, “I like how the eye resembles sunshine and the other side of the face resembles a moon.”

Although dragging your friends to the MFA on a weekend may not sound like the most riveting experience, the “Pairing Picasso” exhibit is worth it. If you yearn to be more cultured, it is the perfect opportunity for you. And while you’re there, you can explore the distinguished permanent collection and other exhibitions, such as #Techstyle on display until July 10 and Megacities Asia, which leaves the MFA on July 17.

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