Picasso meets Lautrec in Madrid

The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain will showcase master artworks of Picasso and Lautrec in the five sections of the exhibition, running from Oct 17, 2017 to Jan 21, 2018.

Oct 17, 2017 | By Andrea Sim

The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain will be holding an exhibition from Oct 17, 2017 to Jan 21, 2018, featuring five sections. The show will examine the 19th– and 20th-century art of two masters: the young Picasso as an admirer of Lautrec in Barcelona and his early years in Paris, as well as compare subjects common to both artists. Each section of the show will shed light on the influence of the cabaret painter’s work throughout the Spanish artist’s career.

Here’s what you can look out for in the five sections of the exhibition:

© Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid / Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Lautrec’s artworks encapsulate the personality of people


“Lautrec became aware of his talent for caricature early in his career, effectively capturing the personality of the people he painted. He painted many caricature self-portraits, as well as portraits of people he knew, such as Jane Avril. Picasso also used caricature in his work. In fact, two paintings — ‘Jane Avril’ by Lautrec and ‘Bust of a Smiling Woman’ by Picasso — display the same characteristic style and pointillist technique.”


© Kunsthaus Zürich / Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Underworld shows another perspective so often overlooked by art


“The two painters’ work offered a window onto a world often overlooked by art, such as Parisian cafés and the cabarets of Montmartre. Lautrec painted posters for shows and portraits of their stars, such as La Goulue and Jane Avril, on many occasions. This fascination with Parisian nightlife is also seen in the work of Picasso, with works such as ‘The Diners.”


Comparing the artistic approach of two master artists


“The world of the circus also played a key role in the careers of both artists. Lautrec was particularly interested in equestrian acts, while Picasso had a more melancholic approach, portraying harlequins as the outcasts of Parisian nightlife.”


© Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid / Picasso - Baltimore Museum of Art, The Cone Collection, formed by Dr Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland

Brothel Life

“Prostitution is another subject common to both artists, expressed in many works by both Lautrec and Picasso. Lautrec portrayed prostitutes attending to their toilette, getting dressed or playing cards, whereas the Spanish painter took a more erotic, sometimes pornographic, approach. At the turn of the 20th century, Picasso went to Saint-Lazare hospital to sketch women with syphilis, leading to works such as ‘Woman with Bangs.”


© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Musée national Picasso-Paris

The artworks carry a symbolic meaning in this section.

Hidden Eros

“When it comes to erotic themes, Lautrec, influenced by Degas, painted more symbolic and delicate connotations, whereas Picasso took a more violent approach.”

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