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Picasso: Peace and Freedom /Tate Liverpool Gallery

One of the biggie events of the cultural year opens this weeked. Luke Porter gets the tour

Published on May 20th 2010.


Picasso: Peace and Freedom /Tate Liverpool Gallery

AHEAD of its opening on Friday, Tate Liverpool gave the press a sneak peek at its much heralded Picasso exhibition which features 150 works by the master drawn from across the world.

This was a grade II sneak peek. The Tate treated a handful of hacks to a trip to Spain last month, because that's where Picasso is from, proving that it's not all dark days for the Fourth Estate in these stricken times.

Picasso: Peace and Freedom documents the artist's tireless work as a political activist and campaigner for peace, and tries to draw away from his much documented extroverted playboy image.

Pablo Ruiz Picasso - or more accurately to his mum - Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso - was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881 and died in 1973 aged 92.

Pab's painting are famously classified into various ‘periods’ based on moods and styles, and these are represented well in Liverpool by a plethora of examples from each.

This collection, which will cost you £10 to see, puts a lot of emphasis on Picasso's Communist views and their effect on his work, and exhibits pieces created after he joined the French Communist Party in 1944. It was in this year that he painted the centrepiece of this exhibit, The Charnel House, an explicity political work depicting the murdered forms of a Spanish family – and unseen in Britain for 50 years.

It is believed that the painting was based on a short documentary film about a Spanish Republican family who were killed in their kitchen under General Franco's regime. Picasso left the painting unfinished, with preliminary sketch lines still present, stating: "what does this mean?... it is unfinished, unresolved..."

Professor Linda Morris, Curator of the exhibit, said: "Picasso used a mixture of pronounced and subtle imagery to highlight his view on certain subjects. He especially focused on the brutality and hopelessness of war."

An example of the more blatant imagery can be seen in Monument to the Spaniards who Died for France, with its use of a skull and crossbones which are traditionally used in Spanish graveyards.

The not so blatant imagery, I can't help you with.

Picasso reserved colour for happier times and the little splashes of intense hue, in pieces such as The Cockerel of the Liberation, really give you a feel of his joy, especially when nestled inbetweeen more macarbe pieces.

A major focus is also put upon Picasso's lithograph of a Milanese fantailed pigeon. Interestingly the pigeon was a gift from fellow artist Henri Matisse. With its strong contrast it instantly attracts the eye.

This image was chosen to be the poster image for the first Peace Congress in Paris in 1949. Picasso did variations on his initial Dove of Peace for Congresses in Wroclaw, Stockholm, Vienna, Rome, Moscow and Sheffield. Examples of these are also on show, with a rare original poster writen in English rather than the more common French.

Interestingly, Pablo never could understand why the dove was a symbol of peace, he felt that they were cruel creatures.

The ground floor at the Tate is home to a timeline of Picasso's life, with additional imput on the political situations at the time; in Britain, the U.S.S.R, France and Spain, as well as archive footage of the man at work and attending the World Peace Congress in Paris.

*Peace Love and Freedom runs from this Friday to August 31. £10 (£8 Concs). Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, L3.

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