Picasso’s most impressive artwork in the Art Institute exhibit is Bull

Picasso's "The Bull"

Over 100 artworks by Picasso grace the new show at the Art Institute of Chicago. Everyone knows Picasso is a genius artist, so I approached the show with high expectations. My first impression after 45 minutes and three walk-arounds is “meh, ok.” I’m sorry to say that, I really am. This is Picasso after all. How dare I call his work, “ok”?

When I go to art exhibits, I go to be inspired. The Picasso show hasn’t quite inspired me yet. I’m keeping an open mind and will be visiting this show multiple times, in hopes of inspiration. One of the artworks in the exhibit points to how there is potential. And this piece is Bull. Literally.

The lithography series of 11 prints is titled “The Bull” printed in 1945-46. In the 11 prints you see Picasso’s mastery of form AND line. Some of the prints of the bull show just simple lines that display the strength of a bull. In other prints, you see the bull’s heft and weight through Picasso’s mastery of volume. The prints I really enjoy are inbetween, where you see Picasso’s delicate lines dance with the heft of volume and weight. It’s an amazing series.

But so why would I go “ok” for the rest of the show if I really love “The Bull”? (more review below this vine animation)


I think the problem with Picasso’s work is when you see it, you think, “meh, another jumbled cubist piece.” I mean, you can appreciate it, but after a while, it’s just… you could think it’s just a bunch of twisted lines. But Picasso does show skill in his choices and ability to paint. There are some prints and drawings that show talent. His cubist work isn’t just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. But you get that mumbo-jumbo feeling walking around the show.

Except for “The Bull” series. 11 different litho prints of a bull standing in the same position. Some are very detailed. Some are abstract. In some the bull has tremendous volume, in others the bull is as skinny as a line. It’s fascinating to see Picasso go through different variations of the Bull making it real, to real/abstract to completely line-based. This series shows that Picasso just doesn’t randomly make cubist works. There is thought in how he balances the real with the abstract.

Go check out the Picasso show at the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s up from February 20 to May 12, 2013. Let me know what you think is the most impressive artwork in the show.

Discover more about Picasso:

Picasso’s most impressive artwork in the Art Institute exhibit is Bull

Art Institute of Chicago marketing to children for Picasso show

Review of the Picasso show: “meh, ok”

The aesthetics of baseball autographs

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Kelly Hafermann
10 years ago

On a quick first run-through, I quite liked “Portrait of Sylvette David” (and the series that incorporated both drawing and words, but I didn’t catch what that was called).

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