Standard Bank, the French Embassy and the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) have announced an international cultural coup for South Africa: Picasso and Africa, an exhibition of works by the 20th century European master, Pablo Picasso. Picasso and Africa will be shown at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg in February and March 2006, and at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town during April and May, 2006.
With President Mbeki of South Africa and President Chirac of France as patrons, the exhibition has the full support of both governments and reinforces the important cultural ties between the two countries. Previous exhibitions of work by Marc Chagall (2000) and Joan MirÃ³ (2002) that were also organised by Standard Bank and IFAS have formed the foundation for this groundbreaking venture. The Picasso Museum in Paris and one of its leading curators, Laurence Madeline, agreed to work with Marilyn Martin, Director of Art Collections at Iziko South African National Gallery, to conceive and develop the exhibition for South Africa.
Picasso and Africa offers, for the first time, a dialogue between Africa and Picasso and explores the influence of African art on his artistic output, in the company of classical African pieces. Says His Excellency Jean Felix-Paganon, Ambassador of France: “Picasso always relied on different cultural traditions which he combined in his unique work. His is a good example of the benefits of cultural diversity that France and South Africa are promoting together.”
The exhibition has three distinct yet interrelated components:
More than 60 paintings, drawings and sculptures dating from 1906 to 1972 that contain and communicate Picasso’s African inspiration
A selection of works that reflect the diversity and rapid changes of which he was capable
A selection of African sculptures, similar to those with which Picasso may have been familiar. These were sourced from various South African holdings, as Picasso’s own collection is dispersed and too fragile to travel.
A prestigious book with in-depth essays by the two curators and other prominent writers will accompany Picasso and Africa. The book will include a detailed biography, an anthology of texts on the exhibition’s theme as well as illustrations of all the exhibited works.
In addition, art education specialists for the Standard Bank Gallery and the Iziko South African National Gallery are developing an extensive workshop and educational programme with the support of Business and Arts South Africa. It includes a published resource for art educators and learners and will also cater for learners with special needs.
When to view Picasso and Africa
Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg: 10 February to 19 March 2006
Iziko National Gallery, Cape Town: 13 April to 21 May 2006