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States of Mind: Picasso Lithographs 1945–1960

By the end of the Second World War, Pablo Picasso had reached what he called “the moment... when the movement of my thought interests me more than the thought itself.” This new interest in “movement”—the successive permutations of an artistic statement—found its most remarkable expression in Picasso’s practice as a printmaker. Whereas oil paintings inevitably covered their tracks, concealing the process of their making under layers of opaque color, prints—especially lithographs—promised to record their own development through sequential stages, charting the movement of their maker’s thoughts from state to state. Picasso could work up a design, print it (in a first state), rework it, and print it again (in a second state), repeating the process two or ten or twenty times to chart the metamorphoses of a particular compositional idea. Drawing on the Norton Simon Museum’s holdings of over 700 Picasso prints—among the deepest collections of its kind anywhere in the world—States of Mind traces the evolution of individual compositions from the 1940s and 1950s through multiple states, subtle adjustments, and radical revisions.

Relevant research areas: Western Europe, 20th Century, Lithography

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