Hammer Museum presents "Picasso Cut Papers" featuring a little known yet foundational aspect of his art practice


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Pablo Picasso, Female nude, Barcelona or Paris, 1902–03. Pen and sepia ink on paper pasted onto electric-blue glazed paper. 7 5/8 × 13 5/16 in. (19.3 × 33.8 cm). Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Gift of Pablo Picasso, 1970 © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Hammer Museum at UCLA presents Picasso Cut Papers, an exhibition about an important yet little-known aspect of the practice of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). This exhibition features some of Pablo Picasso’s most whimsical and intriguing works made on paper and in paper, alongside a select group of sculptures in sheet metal. Many examples have been stored flat or disassembled in portfolios until now and will regain their original three-dimensional forms when presented in the exhibition. This survey spans Picasso’s entire career, from his first cut papers, made in 1899, at nine years of age, through the 1960s, with works he made while in his eighties.

Cut papers were created as independent works of art, as exploratory pieces in relation to works in other mediums, as models for Picasso’s fabricators, and as gifts or games for family and friends. Although the artist rarely sold or exhibited them during his lifetime, he signed, dated, and archived them just as he did his works in other mediums. There are approximately 100 works in the exhibition, many of which have never before been displayed in public, with loans coming principally from the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, the Picasso estate, and the Musée national Picasso in Paris. Major loans have also been granted by the Museu Picasso in Barcelona; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the collection of Gail and Tony Ganz.

Pablo Picasso, Chair, Cannes, 1961. Cut, folded, and painted sheet metal. ..jpg

Pablo Picasso, Chair, Cannes, 1961. Cut, folded, and painted sheet metal. 43 7/8 × 45 1/16 × 35 1/16 in. (111.5 × 114.5 × 89 cm). Musée national Picasso–Paris. Dation, 1979 © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“Given our major collection of works on paper from the Renaissance to the present, the Hammer has a long-standing commitment to presenting both historical and contemporary exhibitions of works on paper. We are thrilled to be organizing the first exhibition devoted solely to Pablo Picasso’s inventive cut papers, many of which have never been exhibited. Picasso Cut Papers will also be the first international loan exhibition to occupy our new Works on Paper Gallery.” said Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin.

Picasso played with the versatility of paper and its ability to be folded and molded, attempting to create volume where it is not otherwise perceived. The cut papers embody the artist’s ongoing experiments in breaking down the traditional barriers between drawing, painting, and sculpture, extending into the fields of photography, moving images, and live performance. Picasso Cut Papers is organized loosely chronologically, according to the following sections:

• Silhouettes
• Contours
• Cut, Pinned, and Pasted Papers
• Torn and Perforated Papers
• Shadow Papers
• Sculpted Papers
• Divertissements
• Masks
• Diurnes

The first publication to focus solely on Picasso’s cut papers, the catalogue features many works reproduced for the first time with newly commissioned photography, alongside new scholarship on a little-known aspect of one of the 20th century’s most pivotal practices. It contributes to the ongoing discourse surrounding innovation and abstraction at the roots of modern art. Also featured is a photo section that surveys Picasso’s engagement with cut paper and sculpture over the decades and documents his practice of cutting paper, both in and out of the studio, with family, friends, and collaborators. The book features a text by Allegra Pesenti and is edited by Cynthia Burlingham and Pesenti. It is published by DelMonico Books • D.A.P and designed by Miko McGinty and Rita Jules. 

About the exhibition

Dates: OCT 1 – DEC 31, 2022

Venue: The Hammer Museum at UCLA

Courtesy of the Hammer Museum at UCLA.