The English fashion designer Sir Paul Smith has created one of the most engaging Picasso exhibitions ever mounted to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the artist’s death on April 8 1973.
“The body of work that he left behind had a profound impact on the entire 20th century” – PS
Picasso has deeply affected Smith and younger artists like Jean Michel Basquiat, Georg Baselitz and George Condo. Smith is an alchemist who mixes fashion with decorative arts and design. He is known for his innovative work with tailoring and unexpected details and colours. His distinct style is conducive to the vast catalogue of Picasso’s work, which has been borrowed from collections around the world, along with work from the Musée National Picasso Paris’ permanent collection. The show was co-curated with Cécile Debray and Joanne Snrech in collaboration with François Dareau.
Smith started to work on this ambitious exhibition as a pre-COVID project. During lockdown, his Covent Garden office was empty, giving him time and space to sort through over 200,000 images from Picasso’s own collection, now in the archives of Musée Picasso. His deep love of Picasso’s loose brushwork inspired him to decorate the walls and choose a diverse selection of work ranging from Pink Period masterpieces to collages and drawings directly on Vogue Magazine pages. The unconventional way the interior interacts with the Picassos adds a whimsical immersive element to the exhibition and underlines the continuing relevance of Picasso’s work today.
This intriguing exhibition highlights Smith’s unique approach to the works on display. He invites the public to view them through a fresh contemporary eye. The visions of these two creatives revolve around a shared love of objects, clothes and mischievousness.
The exhibition also includes works by contemporary international artists, with a connective interpretation of Picasso’s work. Guillermo Kuitca, Obi Okigbo, Mickalene Thomas, and Chéri Samba interrogate his image and put their own slant on some of his artistic innovations.
For decades Paul Smith has taken the lead as one of Britain’s best-loved designers. His creative spirit combines tradition and modernity. Famous for his clothing and accessories collections, Paul Smith specialises in inventing traditional craftsmanship to create modern pieces that draw inspiration from art and everyday life.
A natural innovator, Paul Smith continues to inspire the world of fashion and design internationally. He champions an open, curious and authentic approach to design.
Picasso passed away on 8 April 1973 at Notre-Dame-de-Vie, his home in Mougins, in the Cote d’azur, France. His grandson, Bernard Picasso, and the Musée National Picasso-Paris will be part of 50 exhibitions of the artist’s work in Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Paris and other cities throughout Europe and North America.
Words/Photos: Paul Carter Robinson – Artlyst Editor
PICASSO CELEBRATION: THE COLLECTION IN A NEW LIGHT! UNDER THE ARTISTIC DIRECTION OF PAUL SMITH, MARCH 7 – AUGUST 27, 2023 Musée National Picasso – Paris