“African art? Never heard of it.” Such was the provocative stance with which Picasso tried to deny his relationship with non-European art. And yet, as witnessed by his personal collection, he was always surrounded by the arts of Africa, Oceania, the Americas and Asia, particularly in his various studios. A chronological overview of the artist’s interest and curiosity regarding non-western art is established through documents, letters, objects and photographs.
The exhibition presents a comparison of Picasso’s works with those of non-western artists, based on an anthropology of art. The resulting juxtaposition raises concerns – nudity, sexuality, impulses and loss – similar to those that artists had to address, with parallel solutions (disfiguring or destructuring the body, for instance). The primitive is no longer understood as a stage of non-development, but rather as a means to access deeper, more intimate and fundamental layers of human existence.
An exhibition produced by the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in partnership with the Musée national Picasso, Paris, and adapted by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.