Picasso Linocuts from the British Museum
24 June 2016 – 8 January 2017
Free to all
Acquired with Art Fund support in 2014, the prints evidence Picasso's exceptional abilities in linocut practice.
Picasso first began experimenting with linocuts in 1939, but it wasn’t until the mid-1950s that he fully embraced the technique. Traditionally the method involved cutting a separate block for each colour, but Picasso developed a way of cutting and printing from a single block. It saved huge amounts of time, but also presented tremendous challenges. The artist had to be able to visualise the completed image at an early stage, and it was impossible to reverse any mistakes made during the cutting process.
On display here is a series of his most important prints, made when he was 80 years old. This is the first time they have been displayed outside of the British Museum.
The exhibition offers an insight into the artist's revolutionary technique. For example a portrait of Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline Roque was created using two blocks; one defining the sitter’s head and bust tonally, the other cut to leave just her outline. The two prints superimposed to create the final work.
Meanwhile Still Life under the Lamp, is accompanied by nine proofs which show how Picasso progressively cut and printed from a single block to gradually build an image of increasing complexity.
Art writer Charlotte Mullins, takes a close-up look at the linocuts in the video below.