Picasso's disputed consecration in Italy comes to light
In 1953, Pablo Picasso He was an “uncomfortable” artist for the Italian political class, who were suspicious of the idea of dedicating a first major retrospective to him due to his well-known social commitment. However, the exhibition finally took place, although arduous negotiations were necessary, revealed today in the Naples State Archive (south).
The building, a very ancient monastery in the heart of the city of Vesuvius, offers in one of its atriums until January 14 and free of charge the exhibition “Passion Picasso”, combining a documentary investigation work with an immersive experience about the author when fifty years have passed since his death.
“The visitor who arrives in Naples will find exhibitors full of documents that narrate this entire political history and will enter a wonderful gallery with a continuous flow of his works,” explained the director of the archive, Candida Carrino.
A political question
The Neapolitan exhibition serves in the first instance to recall the two major retrospectives that Italy dedicated for the first time to the Malaga artist in 1953, in the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and in the Royal Palace of Milanthe two capitals of the country.
However, its implementation was not at all easy because post-war Italy and its two hegemonic political forces, the Christian Democrats and the Communist Party, distrusted the effect that their canvases could have on the voter.
They weighed above all his culminating work, “The Guernica” (1937), in which he forever denounced the bombing of the Basque city by German and Italian aviation in the Civil War, or “Massacre in Korea” (1951), the work he painted about the horrors of the war in the Asian country influenced by “The May 3 shootings” by Goya. “Both the Christian Democrats and the Communist Party were against it because there were general elections and, given Picasso's strong political positions, they believed that he could influence the electorate and therefore the results,” says Carrino.
The person in charge of convincing everyone was the Neapolitan communist senator and deputy of the Constituent Assembly, Eugenio Reale, who did not skimp on letters to introduce Picasso to Italy. The feat was possible thanks to the pleasure of the two women who at that time ran both galleries: Palma Bucarelli in Rome and Fernanda Wittgens, regional superintendent of Museums in Lombardy.
In the display cases of the Neapolitan Historical Archive you can see the fascinating files of that difficult negotiation, such as the letters that Reale sent left and right in search of approval. In May 1953, for example, he addressed the Milanese authorities to question the veto initially imposed on holding the retrospective at the Royal Palace, alleging that it did not host exhibitions by living authors. But the prohibition on including the canvas about the massacre in Korea in the Roman exhibition is also revealed, dictated directly by the Christian Democrat totem Giulio Andreotti.
Among the documents you can read Italian articles prior to that brawl, in which the father of cubism was praised as “the utopian of modern painting” after his participation in the XXIV Venice Art Biennale.
Inside the canvas
The other side of “Passion Picasso”, the most technological one proposes a trip in Virtual Reality through its most memorable paintings and a hallway full of projections, which sneak between the historic Benedictine frescoes on the walls of this archive from the Napoleonic era in the heart of Naples. In such a way that, by walking through them, the visitor will not only be able to see in detail the works projected on the walls, but will also enter them with the projection of their own shadow.
The opening of the exhibition, which is sponsored by EFE and the Italian agency Ansaas well as the Cervantes Institute, was attended by the Spanish ambassador to Italy, Miguel Fernández-Palaciosthe mayor of Naples, Gaetano Manfredi and the Cultural Advisor of Campania, Felice Casucciamong others.
“Picasso's pictorial life changed especially after the 1953 exhibitions and we decided that Italy should be an absolute reference for the fiftieth anniversary. That's why we are here," the Spanish diplomat told the media.
[Crédito Fotos: Gonzalo Sánchez (EFE)]
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