A scholarly but accessible survey of prominent pieces from the heart of Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) cubist period, rich in opportunities for visual deep dives.
By 1912, Picasso had already commanded attention with the cubist oil paintings through which he (along with Georges Braque) radically reimagined form and perspective. For the next two years, Picasso began experimenting with materials as well, dabbling with newspaper, grit, charcoal. Perhaps most famously, he produced two guitars, one in cardboard and another in sheet metal, that playfully and dynamically gave a 3-D treatment of his two-dimensional experiments. This app lets the user get up close to 15 pieces he made in this period. Finger swipes offer 360-degree views of the guitar, while the two-dimensional works can be seen, usually, under raking light (which reveals surface textures), ultraviolet light, infrared light and sometimes even X-ray. A handful of brief videos feature a Museum of Modern Art staff preservationist’s look into Picasso’s works (particularly the guitars) and their restoration. And a lot of restoration has been needed: As a young artist living in Paris, he used cheap materials, including glues that have broken down, and there are copious discussions of the efforts made on the artworks' behalf. Each piece is accompanied by an introductory essay and notes on its provenance and exhibition history, and casual readers may bristle at the heavily footnoted essays, which sometimes lapse into dry art-catalog–ese. But there are plenty of resources to help the newcomer, including a thorough glossary, and the writing is generally clear and often surprisingly engaging, particularly details on how these pieces traveled from the walls of Gertrude Stein or Nelson Rockefeller to MoMA. Combined with an assortment of supplementary photos, the app is a thorough appreciation of a vibrant artist on the brink of fame.
Though perhaps too much for newcomers to the path-breaking artist, handsome and authoritative for those beyond introductions.