1932 was a big year for Picasso, even by his own bohemian standards; he enjoyed a passionate affair with the woman who many believe was the love of his life, Marie-Thérèse Walter, and then had to get his head around a harrowing break-up.
This emotional rollercoaster was expressed through his paintbrush and in his diary of canvases. In fact, 1932 marked the most intensively creative year of his life, he produced over a hundred of his most recognisable works in a short, traumatic 12-month span.
As of this weekend, his extraordinary output’s going on show for the first time, in Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy, the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work to appear at the Tate Modern, and it contains a frightening amount of rarities, many of which seldom leave the clutches of their private owners’ vaults. The Dream, Girl Before a Mirror, Nude in a Black Armchair – they’re all there.
Moreover, the exhibition picks up where an earlier showing of his work left off. Towards the end of his frantic 12 months of painting in late 1932, just as Picasso turned 50, a group of Parisian art dealers put a selection of his new works on show. Picasso’s naturalistic portraits of his family (including his wife Olga and son Paulo) were displayed alongside cubist paintings of Marie-Thérèse, unintentionally blowing the whistle on his affair. His home life collapsed, and his work took a dark turn – a trajectory which this new Tate exhibition follows judiciously.
The paintings of Marie-Thérèse are some of Picasso’s most sensual, often considered the pinnacle of his life’s collection of more than 16,000 works. Despite their disastrous impact of Picasso’s personal life, they solidified his influence in the art world.
The exhibition at the Tate scratches the surface of dramatic time in the artist’s life, curating more than 100 of Picasso’s pieces from 1932. It’s an emotional journey with flashes into Picasso’s private life with his wife and son, and it leads you down a path of dark secrets, all the way to Marie-Therese’s tragic death that inspired his ominous paintings of rescue and rape. It’s a vision of Picasso as you’ve never seen him before.
Tickets £22, March 8 to September 9, tate.org.uk