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Picasso on Screen

13 may, 1993 - 5 june, 1993 /
Sabatini Building, Auditorium

At the point where films on art are at their most inventive and creative, Pablo Picasso (Malaga, 1881 - Mougins, 1973) has long been a target, the object of inquiry and seduction. Trapped by a silent and almost forgotten attraction, the cinema has focused on his oeuvre, a motionless immensity in time. After the Second World War, when films on art appeared in France, Belgium and Italy, three essential pioneers in the genre made - within years of each other - three key films in the history of films on art, all about Picasso’s work: Guernica (1949) by Robert Hessens and Alain Resnais (Vannes, 1922), Visite à Picasso (1950) by Paul Haesaerts (Boom, 1901 - Brussels, 1974) and Picasso (1953) by Luciano Emmer (Milan, 1918 - Rome, 2009). It is almost impossible to imagine all the films that have been made about the artist since then and difficult to realise that, going back a bit further in time, other films could emerge from where they lie hidden to take their place on the long list of works dedicated to the painter from Malaga. The result would be 140 hours of screen time, i.e., an uninterrupted programme of five and a half days. In these otherworldly sessions, the painter and his work would appear on the screen, in forms ranging from drawings to ink, engravings to sculpture, from collage to oils, ceramics and pottery. Nothing would interrupt the artist’s work except for the changing of the reels in the projector, brief intervals in this permanent cinema session. The fascinated viewer would then take a kind of condensed, stunning tour through the work of a lifetime.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Carlos Fernández Cuenca, the former director and president of the Spanish Film Archive, wrote Picasso, en el cine también, a well-documented volume that established the first filmography of Picasso on screen. Fernández Cuenca’s work served as the starting point for the programme Picasso à l’écran at the 3rd International Biennial of Films on Art (1992), which is now being presented by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The fortuitous discovery of Esencia de Verbena (1930) by Ernesto Giménez Caballero (Madrid, 1899-1988), the first known short film to look at Picasso’s work (along with works by Francisco de Goya and Maruja Mallo), suddenly confirmed the importance of and interest in reviving the filmography established by Fernández Cuenca, which this exhibition is designed to reflect.

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