The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is opening a new exhibition of the American photojournalist Douglas Duncan, featuring 87 of his works. Duncan was a close frond of Picasso and took many photographs of that artist. These pictures have been chosen to create a dialogue with some works by Picasso featured in the permanent collection.
The museum’s director Bernardo Laniado-Romero, explains, “although many photographers portrayed Picasso, in the case of Douglas Duncan, his friendship with the artist resulted in a more intimate depiction of the private moments in the life of Picasso and Jacqueline, as well as a record of his artistic processes, so these photos can help us to better understand the artist.”
The merit of these photographs, Laniado-Romero adds, is that they are a complete set and tell a story, they are not unique works that exist in isolation from one another.
This second exhibition will be open to the public until January the 12th and predominantly features portraits of Picasso and Jacqueline taken between 1956 and 1962. One particularly interesting aspect of the exhiition is that many of the photographs show Picasso at work, and then feature the completed piece of work alongside.
The depiction of intimate moments, such as a photo from 1957 of the artist at work on a linocut design for an exhibition poster, while his daughter Paloma sits drawing alongside, help to bring the artist and his work to life.
Duncan’s works also record Picasso’s fascination with nudes by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Picasso owned several reproductions of Cranach’s work, including “Venus and Love”, which inspired various drawings and lithographs by Picasso in the 1940s and 1950s.
While working on ‘Las Meninas’, Picasso set up his workshop on the second floor of his home and studio, La Californie, next to a terrace where he owned a dovecote. A series of photographs from the exhibition show Picasso and Jacqueline surrounded by pigeons fluttering around this terrace, a fact that confirms Duncan moved in Picasso’s innermost circle, for while he was painting ‘Las Meninas’ Picasso famously allowed nobody into his studio.
Duncan is possibly most famous as a war photographer who covered both the Korean and Vietnam wars. As well as intimate moments in the life of Picasso, the exhibition are also some portraits not related to the great artist’s life, such as two poignant pictures from the Korean war of a friend of Duncan’s lying dead on a hillside.
The exhibition closes with an eloquent picture of a petite Jacqueline next to the immense canvas of “Guernica”, as it is about to leave the MOMA for its return home to Spain.
If you are in Barcelona this autumn you might already be planning a trip to the Picasso museum. If you do, be sure not to miss this wonderful exhibition.