This is an exhibit tonic as a ping-pong mental, surprising as the history of art which questions, ambitious as these two masters of modern art, as beautiful as any pas de deux that goes without saying. Calder (1898-1976) and Picasso (1881-1973) play the whole of their invention, of their freedom, of their character in this confrontation splendid around the common theme of the sculpture that is the vacuum. The commissioners – the two grandsons of the artists, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, and Alexander S. C. Rower, and the two experts from the Picasso Museum, Claire Garnier and Emilia Philippot – play the master of puppets, and put in scene with fingering of their two main characters. In this theater of the hôtel Salé, the modern art seems to have been just invented.

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Calder and Picasso play with all their invention, of their freedom, of their character in this confrontation splendid around the common theme of the sculpture that is the empty

For the Calder, the apprehension of the blank is guided by intellectual curiosity: she seeks an elliptical shape to an idea ( Sharks and whales , 1933, abstraction eloquent in two pieces of exotic wood painted). For Picasso, it is an approach that is more nervous of the intimate, as each of his works can be read as a self-portrait at an instant T of his tumultuous life ( Woman in red armchair , 1932). A generation and an ocean separating the Andalusian and the American, but the strength of their talent that bounces constantly, with the greatest of ease, unites a continent apart ( Spherical I , 1931, a sketch of a planet signed Calder responds, in its emptiness, full of Head of a man , 1930, Picasso).

The full and the hollow

Everything here seems to flow from the source, as if it only needed a brass wire to sculpt a fish outside and inside, off the scales, open mouth, ( Fish , 1929, Calder), a ladle, of spades clawed, wood, rope and nails to give body to its predator ( Figure , 1935, Picasso). The silhouettes in wire by Calder who dance with their shadows, pure designs in the space, meet Acrobat , 1930, grey disarticulated painted by Picasso. The circus of Calder is not exposed here: the commissioners do not know if Picasso was invited by letter to discover it, saw it in his time. Only four meetings Calder-Picasso are attested historically.

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The highly focused works contains about twelve rooms, living paintings composed according to a narrative thread which would wander off never. The menacing Wooden Bottle with Hairs , 1943, Calder and icon of the Whitney Museum in New York, responds to the scratches of ink left by Picasso on a blank page ( Circle and Signs. I , 29 October 1930). The play of correspondences and differences, the use of the full or hollow, circle, or line up a course clear that the design of Jasmine Oezcebi (often admired in the Centre Pompidou) stresses without support. In the end, the stabiles and mobiles by Calder pour out their wonderful. And Picasso is of this force with a voracious appetite that stands, reinvents itself and continues. We go out of this duo at the top, dazzled and dreamy.

“Calder-Picasso’ at the Picasso Museum. 5 rue de Thorigny (Iii). Tel.: 01 85 56 00 36. Opening hours: Everyday except on lun., 10 h 30 to 18 h. Until 25 August. Catalogue: “Calder Picasso”, coéd. Musée national Picasso – Ed. Gallimard, 42 €, 256 p.

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