For the first-ever time, the United Kingdom displays a Pablo Picasso painting, which depicts two women sitting on furniture facing opposite directions. These two were the lovers of Picasso, and as he depicted in the picture, they are having an unfriendly encounter.
The 1937 painting features in the Dora Maar exhibition, which will run through March 15, 2020, at London’s Tate Modern gallery. Called “The Conversation”, the painting displays Maar sitting on a chair facing the opposite direction of Marie-Thérèse Walter. One wonders why Picasso titled it so; after all, who would have a conversation sitting this way.
“I think it’s fair to say that it was an uncomfortable relationship,” stated Emma Lewis, assistant curator at Tate Modern, referring to Maar and Walter. “We know that Picasso, for whatever reason, kept these two women in his life in uncomfortable proximity to one another.”
In 1927, Picasso saw Walter when the latter was exiting a Parisian metro. He held her by the arm and introduced himself to her, and the rest, as they say, is history. She was Picasso’s lover and model for years following that unexpected meeting at the Paris railway station. Walter gave birth to a girl in 1935; incidentally, Pablo met Dora Maar in that year itself.
The painting was displayed to the public just two times previous to this. Emma Lewis said that Tate Modern’s show celebrates a significant artist with a six-decade-long career, and that Picasso (meaning his work) had to be part of this show.
She suggested that downplaying these years in the artist’s life, would be a missed chance to explore his relationships in a previously-unseen way. That is why the gallery chose not to do so in the exposition.
It displays over 200 artworks, including early advertising photography and fashion work, plus street photos that capture the grim life situations in 1930s Europe. That was the Great Depression period, so lives were not great for people in the streets of Paris, London and Barcelona.
The exhibition features over 20 surrealist images by Maar, including 1936’s “Portrait of Ubu”. The surrealist artist always wished that image to be an enigma, but it is considered the fetus of an armadillo. After World War II, she displayed abstract landscape-genre paintings before gradually distancing herself from groups of artists.
At the end of the show, people on a Tate Modern private tour will see 1980’s camera-less photos that Maar created in her darkroom.