NORMAN — Pablo Picasso's “Woman in the Studio,” a 1956 painting on loan from the St. Louis Art Museum, is the centerpiece of a small exhibit of works by the celebrated Spanish painter that opens Friday at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm.
The woman pictured in this oil on canvas is probably Josephine Roque, Picasso's muse and second wife. During their 20-year marriage, Picasso painted more than 400 portraits of Roque. Her high cheekbones and large, dark eyes became familiar symbols in Picasso's late paintings.
The painting will be displayed alongside eight works from the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art's permanent collection, including several prints and a ceramic piece. The exhibit will remain on view until summer 2013.
“After we went through the negotiations of getting the painting, we decided to feature it as part of a larger installation instead of one isolated painting,” said exhibit curator Mark White. “Together with our works, the material seemed to fit an examination of Picasso's career in the mid 20th century.”
Picasso's early works were rooted in realism but after the turn of the 20th century, he began experimenting with new approaches to his art. Picasso was a pioneer of the cubist movement in art, a style in which familiar objects are fragmented and reassembled in an abstracted form.
In much the same way composers take melodic or rhythmic figures from their early works and incorporate them into new works, Picasso interpolated elements from his cubist period into works created late in his career. He was 75 years old when he painted “Woman in the Studio.”
“Picasso loved to quote himself but it's never a precise quotation,” White explained. “It's sort of a vague appropriation of something that feels and looks familiar. ‘Woman in the Studio' is almost pieced together out of different aesthetic approaches.
“The figure is clearly drawn from an earlier period but the right side of painting almost delves into pure abstraction. It's a painting that vacillates between representation and abstraction. You get a bit of the familiar and a bit of the new that come together in this painting.”