Collection Presentation: Pablo Picasso Suite 156 with Ms. Kubra Khademi, UMISAA, Alumna

Cologne, Germany - 25th October 2023

Collection Presentation: Pablo Picasso Suite 156

Collection Presentation: Pablo Picasso Suite 156

Collection Presentation: Pablo Picasso Suite 156

Collection Presentation: Pablo Picasso Suite 156 with Kubra Khademi

Oc­to­ber 28, 2023 – Fe­bruary 4, 2024

April 8, 2023, marked the fifti­eth an­niver­sary of Pab­lo Pi­cas­so’s death. Nu­mer­ous ex­hi­bi­tions in Eu­rope and the Unit­ed States are cele­brat­ing this ju­bilee by in­tro­duc­ing Pi­cas­so’s work to to­day’s au­di­ences un­der the ban­n­er of The Pi­cas­so 1973–2023 Cele­bra­tion. The hold­ings of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig in­clude the third-largest col­lec­tion of Pi­cas­sos in the world, and it is par­ti­ci­pat­ing in the an­niver­sary year with a pre­sen­ta­tion from the Graph­ic Col­lec­tions: Suite 156, a late work by the artist, con­sist­ing of 155 etch­ings from be­tween 1968 and 1972.

The pe­ri­od in which the cy­cle was cre­at­ed co­in­cid­ed with the so­cio­cul­tu­r­al pheno­menon of hu­man rights move­ments world­wide, which in Pi­cas­so’s adopt­ed coun­try, France, cul­mi­nat­ed in the events of May 1968 in Paris. In his last cy­cle of prints, Pi­cas­so ex­plores per­so­n­al me­m­ories, love, life, and mor­tal­i­ty, the his­to­ry of West­ern art and cul­ture, and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween artists, mod­els, and view­ers. Their uni­fy­ing el­e­ment is Eros, the Greek god of erot­ic de­sire who re­veals the li­bi­do and pas­sion of all sub­jects. When the se­ries was pre­sent­ed in Paris for the first time in ear­ly 1973, the re­ac­tions were mixed. Al­though Pi­cas­so’s tech­ni­cal mas­tery was rec­og­nized, the ex­plic­it de­pic­tion of sex­u­al prac­tices was con­tro­ver­sial. This con­flict is the start­ing point of the pre­sen­ta­tion, which fo­cus­es on spe­cif­ic as­pects of col­lec­tive work in the print­ing pro­cess such as Pi­cas­so’s close col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bel­gian prin­t­er Al­do Crom­me­lynk. At the same time, the suite re­flects a pe­ri­od of so­cial change and cul­tu­r­al up­hea­val in which the wo­m­en’s move­ment, the dis­course on body im­age, body politics, vis­i­bil­i­ty, and rep­re­sen­ta­tion were al­so ex­pressed in art his­to­ry.

Dur­ing the same pe­ri­od that Suite 156 was cre­at­ed, the mag­azine Le Tor­chon brule was found­ed by ac­tivists and artists from the Mou­ve­ment de libéra­tion des femmes (MLF) at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. A se­lec­tion of il­lus­tra­tions, works on pa­per, and texts from the mag­azine, which was is­sued “men­stru­al­ly,” sub­s­tan­ti­ates the ac­tiv­i­ty of femi­n­ist artist col­lec­tives in this era.

The pre­sen­ta­tion of the se­ries of etch­ings is com­ple­ment­ed by a new piece by con­tem­po­rary Afghan artist Kubra Khade­mi (b. 1989 in Ghor, Afghanis­tan). Her art in­vesti­gates so­cial nor­ma­tive ex­pec­ta­tions of fe­male bodies in a po­lit­i­cal yet hu­mor­ous way. She con­s­cious­ly us­es the body as a provoca­tive artis­tic means for achiev­ing gen­der equal­i­ty. For ex­am­ple, in Ar­mor, a 2015 per­for­mance, she walked through the streets of Kab­ul wear­ing a suit of ar­mor that em­u­lat­ed the forms of the fe­male body. As a re­sult, the artist had to leave the coun­try and has lived in ex­ile in Paris ev­er since. Her new three-part work con­sists of large-for­mat gouache draw­ings show­ing don­keys in vari­ous pos­es, some of them erot­ic, in­spired by Per­sian mi­nia­tures and Mughal paint­ing. The draw­ings vi­su­al­ize ev­ery­day oral cul­ture in Afghanis­tan by im­i­tat­ing the way that wo­m­en talk among them­selves about sex­u­al de­sire and pass on their knowl­edge to the next gen­er­a­tion of wo­m­en.

This re­v­er­sal from the male to the fe­male gaze adds the per­spec­tive of a non-Eu­ro­pean artist, ex­pand­ing the top­ic of sex­u­al de­sire and of­fer­ing an op­por­tu­ni­ty to re­flect on Pi­cas­so’s Suite 156 in con­text of cur­rent de­bates about art and gen­der.