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Picasso versus Rusiñol, the latest exhibition at the Picasso Museum

Leading figure of Catalan Art Nouveau a key influence on the genius from Màlaga

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29 May 2010 12:50 AM

by

Alba Falcó Vila
Santiago Rusiñol, one of the leading figures of Catalan Art Nouveau, was a direct reference for Pablo Ruiz Picasso during his formative years in Barcelona. This is the thesis behind the exhibition “Picasso versus Rusiñol” at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. The exhibition explores Picasso’s early years as an emancipated student of Fine Arts and his relationship with Rusiñol, who was already a key figure in the Barcelona cultural scene. His influence is contextual rather than artistic, and this relationship lasted for five years, until Picasso decided to move to Paris.
According to Eduard Vallès, the curator of the exhibition, “versus” has a double sense: on the one hand the sense of going towards something, and on the other the sense of opposition the idea provokes. That’s why this word has been chosen as the title of the exhibition, because both senses “perfectly summarize” the relationship between Picasso and Rusiñol.

For the young Picasso, Rusiñol was a reference as an artistic figure. Rusiñol knew how to look at the creative capabilities of this emerging artist. During their five-year relationship, Picasso painted 21 portraits of Rusiñol, who was the owner of “Cau Ferrat”, a cultural lighthouse for Art Nouveau artists during the period. Twelve of these portraits can be seen in the exhibition that opened this week at the Museu Picasso, which attempts to explain the influence that the artistic world of Barcelona had on the artist.

In fact, what Picasso did was to 'version' Rusiñol, rather than copy him. Picasso merged Rusiñol into his own work and both shared an interest in Greco, the love of the colour blue and certain ways of facing death. But, above all, Picasso was interested in Rusiñol as the leader of the cultural world of Barcelona at the time. As Vallès said, “what interested Picasso the most was what Rusiñol was, rather than what he did”. That is the reason why his portraits of the Art Nouveau artist evolved towards satire and caricature.

Unpublished works by Picasso

The exhibition brings together a total of 145 paintings by Picasso, Rusiñol, Greco, Ramon Casas and Isidre Nonell, among others. Among these works, there are five drawings that Rusiñol bought for Picasso, twelve of the twenty-one portraits that Picasso dedicated to Rusiñol and the discovery of a fragment of one of the masterworks of the collection “L’abraçada”. Unedited drawings by Picasso such as “Home nu”, “Parella en un jardí”, “El final del camí”, the poster “Plat del dia” and the painting “Nocturn Barceloní” are also presented.

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  • Santiago Rusiñol was one of the leaders of Catalan Modernism

  • The exhibition brings together a total of 145 paintings by Picasso, Rusiñol and some by Greco, Ramon Casas or Isidre Nonell

  • The exhibition explores Picasso in his young years as an emancipated student of Fine Arts, and his relationship with Rusiño

  • Santiago Rusiñol was one of the leaders of Catalan Modernism
  • The exhibition brings together a total of 145 paintings by Picasso, Rusiñol and some by Greco, Ramon Casas or Isidre Nonell
  • The exhibition explores Picasso in his young years as an emancipated student of Fine Arts, and his relationship with Rusiño
Pepe Serra, the director of the "Museu Picasso", says that once Picasso has been twice in Paris and discovered Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, etc. his relationship with Rusiñol breaks