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How to Curate ‘Badly’: Forked Temporality in Pablo Picasso’s Retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit, 1932

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Picasso curated his first large-scale retrospective, Exposition Picasso, which was held at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris, in 1932. When asked how he arranged the works, Picasso replied, ‘Badly’. This article unravels the artist’s curation, beginning with his juxtaposition of a lowly houseplant with the sculpture Woman’s Head (1929–30). Using archival research, installation photographs, and the writings of Picasso’s contemporaries, this article offers an interpretation of the exhibition by analysing Picasso’s deliberately inconsistent curatorial strategies, which defied the chronological and teleological narratives often applied to his career and that tend to dominate the traditional history of modernism.
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Keywords: Exposition Picasso; Galeries Georges Petit; Pablo Picasso; Picasso retrospectives; artists as curators; houseplants in art; temporality in curating

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent Scholar

Publication date: 01 April 2017

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  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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