Published to accompany the exhibition Picasso: Challenging the Past at the National Gallery, London 25 February – 7 June 2009.
From his earliest years Pablo Picasso was a passionate student of the European painting tradition. His memory for images was voracious, and he amassed an art collection of his own. Naturally he was drawn to the Spanish masters Velazquez and Goya, but also important to him were figures such as Rembrandt, Delacroix, Ingres, Manet and Cézanne. Picasso repeatedly pitted himself against these masters, taking up their signature themes, techniques and artistic concerns in audacious paintings of his own. Sometimes his ‘quotations' were direct, other times highly allusive. Always, Picasso made the implicit case that it was he in the twentieth century who most forcefully reinvigorated the European tradition.
Picasso: Challenging the Past showcases the technical dexterity, independence and vitality of Picasso's creative processes, for here we witness the daring transformation of the art of the past into, in Picasso's own words, ‘something else entirely’.
‘See the past afresh through Picasso’s eye in this well-illustrated and thought-provoking compendium of his fiercely competitive ‘collaborations’ with Old Masters.’
The Times, 15 April 2009.