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Behind The Scenes At The NGV’s Epic New Picasso Exhibition

Inside Look

The NGV’s Winter Masterpieces exhibition ‘The Picasso Century’ is the definition of a blockbuster, and it’s open now!

Developed exclusively for the NGV in conjunction with the Centre Pompidou and the Musée National Picasso-Paris, the show contains 70 pieces by the iconic painter and 100 from over 60 of his contemporaries. 

By staging Picasso’s own masterpieces beside works from his peers such as Matisse, Dali and Gertrude Stein, the exhibition reimagines the iconic artist’s artistic context, social milieu and historical surroundings. 

Given this huge scale, the exhibition spans the gallery’s entire ground floor. It’s broken down into 15 sections, each one representing a different period in the artist’s life and his corresponding creative oeuvre from his early Cubist years to his legendary blue period.

Every NGV exhibition is brought to life using paint colour by Dulux. For this show, exhibition designer Allie Mactier used colour to give viewers a clue about what was happening around Picasso at the time. From subtle ‘Milton Moon’ and ‘Malay Grey’, to revolutionary (and almost shocking!) ‘Hot Lips’ red to represent Picasso’s involvement with the Communist Party during the Second World War, the colours around the paintings recreate the emotional and political mood in which they were created.

Not only do these big colours replicate the intense drama of specific historical periods Picasso lived and worked through, they reinforce the truly radical nature of his work.

‘The Picasso Century’ is open now at the NGV until October 9, 2022.

Video created by Matt Harding.

Buttery yellows frame the artist’s early Cubist works. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

White and dark charcoals allow the masterpieces to shine their genius. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Subtle greys create a neutral context in which to stage multiple artworks by many different artists in one room. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Dulux Hot Lips red references Picasso’s involvement with the Communist Party during the Second World War. Left – Sean Fennessy. Right – Peter Bennetts.

This intense (and almost shocking!) scarlet shade of Dulux Hot Lips is a departure from the preceding sections of the exhibition, and also hint towards the violence and political tumult across Europe at the time. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

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