A compendium of craft masquerading as art, art masquerading as craft, and craft extending its middle finger.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ain't No Picasso


Does anyone remember that Saturday Night Live sketch where Jon Lovitz played Picasso? He was at a restaurant, and paid his bill by sneezing into a napkin and declaring it a "PICASSO"! Last year, I had a chance to wander through the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, where Picasso has a huge presence. I've gotta give it to Ludwig--they have pieces from all eras of Picasso's output...early paintings from the Picasso-Braque arms race, prints, and some fantastic small scale sculpture. It's my personal opinion that Picasso, in all of his genius, was a liiiiiiittle too prolific. Much like the Jon Lovitz sketch, he pooped out marginal lithographs and prints at a frightening pace.

Picasso's ceramics are little known in comparison to his other work. He caught the clay bug when he was visiting Southern Franceimmediately after World War II. Over the course of the next 25 years, he collaborated with George and Suzanne Ramie in France and the Artigas family in Spain. Picasso approached ceramic forms with gusto, gleefully tweaking and reassembling forms. In 1999, the Metropolitan Museum mounted Picasso: Painter and Sculptor in Clay, a monumental exhibition covering all aspects of Picasso's ceramic output. The exhibition catalog is a stunning tribute to his clay work, which dwarfs that of most lifelong ceramic nerds.

A more modest exhibition of Picasso's "editioned" ceramic output is nearing the end of a 7 year museum tour. Picasso: 25 Years of Edition Ceramics from the Edward Weston Collection enters my neck of the woods this week. The exhibition will be at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth, GA through March 31st. Edward Weston, the collector behind the exhibition, began collecting the Picasso editions in the early 1950's, paying as little as $25 per piece. Those same pieces fetch as much as $25,000 today--even though you can occasionally find relative bargains. If you find yourself tooling around Duluth, do yourself a favor, and soak up the Picasso love... and for god's sake, save that sneezed on napkin. It could be worth $25,000 some day!

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