Without the figure of Pablo Picasso (Málaga, Spain, 1881 - Mougins, France, 1973) understanding how contemporary art has evolved would be impossible. Therefore, the exhibition Picasso: las grandes series (Picasso: The Great Series) presents the artist's later work, never brought together in Spain until now. The resonance of these works is appreciated in the abstract expressionists and the successive generations of American painters such as Adolf Gottlieb, Mark Tobey, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly and Brice Marden via the use of the leaden palette the painter from Málaga employs in his work from 1951 onwards. Picasso also preempted Pop movements in the chromatic combinations of some of his oil paintings belonging to the series Las mujeres de Argel (Women of Algiers) or the representations of his own studio.
The selected chronological period represented by the exhibition follows the years spanning between 1953 and 1973, the time in which Jacqueline Roque is at his side and has a strong influence on him, as was the case with many of his previous partners. During these years Picasso, to a certain extent, recapitulates all of his previous work, including the realisation of Cubism and his work from the Thirties, which results in a return to classical painting, not as a copy or direct inspiration, but as more of a re-appropriation through themes and compositions.
This exhibition displays the great thematic series that characterised Picasso's final years and establishes his personal dialogue with past masterpieces. The first approach is based on the contemplation of his studio and his models; Picasso focuses on one of ène Delacroix' most recognised works Femmes d'Alger (Women of Algiers) (1834), realising fifteen versions in oil as well as a selection of drawings, etchings and lithographs that complete the series produced from 1953 to 1955.
In his second approach, Picasso observes the empty studio; his studio located in the La Californie mansion denotes the start of his life with Jaqueline Roque, who appears represented in many of the paintings in the series - examples of interior landscape.
These are followed by one of Picasso's most widely recognised series, composed around Diego Velázquez' Las Meninas. The artist approaches the studio now, introducing the painter and his models, in this instance embodying the infantas.
In Picasso's fourth approach, the model is outside the studio. He chooses Édouard Manet's Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass), but, regrettably, he is morally obliged to once again renounce the barbarity of war after the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, which has repercussions on his work and leads him to exercise variations on Nicolas Poussin's The Rape of the Sabine Women (1637-38).
Finally, Picasso deals with what had been one of his key concerns: the process of artistic creation. He dedicates the next decade of his life to developing this theme through the personification of the figures of the painter and his models in the studio. Some of the paintings in this series, El pintor y la modelo, were acquired in 1964, and were the next works to join the State collections after Guernica.
This last series concludes the exhibition made up of eighty oil paintings and forty drawings, of which eighty percent were previously unseen in Spain.
In 2000, the Museo Reina Sofía presented the exhibition Picasso Minotauro (Picasso Minotaur), also curated by Paloma Esteban Leal, which compiled the artistic interpretations of the mythological figure produced by the genius from Málaga throughout his career.