Inside the exhibition: Picasso and Paper
Picasso was interested in paper all his life, all different kinds of paper Drawing is absolutely fundamental to his art He once claimed he could draw before he could speak We’re standing in the Royal Academy of Arts and the name of the exhibition is Picasso and Paper. It’s got about 320 works in it, and it covers the whole of Picasso’s career; from works he did as a child; when he was only nine and work he did when he was about 92, right at the end of his life. So, it covers every period of his very long, rich career. He used paper in such a multitude of different ways and so creatively and inventively. He even made little sculptures out of paper. He was a wonderful printmaker. He started quite early in his life, and it dominated the last decade of his life. He also invented new ways of combining printmaking techniques with photographic techniques. He once said to a friend, “Oh, the paper seduced me” He was fascinated by all different kinds of paper: expensive antique papers dating back to the time of the French Revolution, but the next minute he’s drawing on a piece of wrapping paper or a bit of blotting paper or just very ordinary cheap papers. Newspaper was a medium he used a lot. He’s a kind of visual anarchist. He doesn’t set boundaries between what’s high art and what is low art. I think the most important work in the show is this really huge collage, called ‘Les femmes a leur toilette.’ which has made all of fragments of patterned wallpaper of the period which he had saved and collected. It’s a fascinating work, and it’s very rarely exhibited. One of the most fascinating and the most individual things about Picasso as an artist is he had this extraordinary capacity to keep reinventing himself. Every decade he’s working in a completely different style. He’s always inventing, always looking at new ways of perceiving the world, new ways of representing the world, and paper runs throughout all of this.