"He was wrong"
"He was wrong"
25 August 2012
- 3 March 2013
There are two artists that may have influenced modernism and our perception of what art is more than any others: Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. These two artists are often presented as opposites. Picasso was the painter with magic hands and eyes as intense as rubies; Duchamp was the cool ironist who challenged painting and transformed art into a labyrinthine mindgame. They lived and worked in close proximity, yet seem to have moved in completely different worlds. When Duchamp died, Picasso is reputed to have made a laconic comment: “He was wrong.”
The exhibition Picasso/Duchamp is based on Moderna Museet’s history and its fine collection of works by these two artists. Moderna Museet’s very first exhibition presented Picasso’s legendary Guernica in 1956. A few years later, in 1961, Duchamp visited Stockholm. He had a seminal impact on the young generation of artists at the time, and was featured in several exhibitions at Moderna Museet, which has one of the world’s finest collections of his works. Separately and together, these two oeuvres demonstrate the rise of modernism in the early 20h century, and its consolidation in post-war Europe and USA. As two of the most influential artists of the 20h century, they never cease to inspire discussions and exhibitions. There are many interesting notions to follow in their ideas, words and material works.
Duchamp eloquently expressed his ideas on the work of art as an unfinished piece with infinite possible interpretations. His creative works were, to a large extent, produced by others. Hence, Moderna Museet’s Duchamp collection, with the Large Glass as its centrepiece, is the result of Ulf Linde’s lifelong interest in Duchamp’s artistic practice. Moderna Museet also has a substantial collection of paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings by Picasso. A few interesting works have also been borrowed, in order to cover nearly seven decades of Picasso's oeuvre, focusing on "the master and his model". Picasso and Duchamp are giants in the world of art. They have often been described by the critics as incompatible. Octavio Paz, for instance, writes: ‘Perhaps the two painters who have had the greatest influence in this century are Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. The former with his entire oeuvre; the latter with one single work, which is a veritable negation of the modern sense of work.' In this way, Picasso/Duchamp represent a violent confrontation, perhaps the biggest one we know, in modern art. For the first time, Moderna Museet is showing these two giants side by side, to explore the energies that arise and where the interplay between them can lead.