HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EXHIBITION PICASSO REDACTED
Picasso Redacted consists of a selection of new charcoal and graphite drawings by New York–based artist Robert Longo, made expressly for the exhibition, together with a large-scale special archival pigment print of Longo’s Guernica Redacted (After Picasso's Guernica, 1937), 2016, published by Cahiers d’Art. This large-scale limited edition archival print is based on Longo’s monumental charcoal on mounted paper drawing, Guernica Redacted (After Picasso’s Guernica, 1937), 2014. This original drawing measures 111 ½ x 244 1/4 inches. Guernica Redacted demonstrates a new and critical development of Longo’s radically increased level of intervention of the original source image. Heavy black vertical charcoal stripes fracture Picasso’s already fractured composition by intermittently cutting through the entire picture plane. Longo explains, “I thought of the frames of a film and the flicker of black and white news reels of the past, the bars of a prison, or the redaction of sensitive texts."
Elements of this large charcoal drawing are present in this limited edition print. A meditation on the difference between “looking” and “seeing,” particularly with images that we think we know, Longo’s Guernica Redacted creates opportunities for a very different understanding of Picasso’s famous outcry against the tragedies of war. Longo is known for his use of black and white in his abstract works. His art frequently has a meditative quality that, in this instance, reveals the considerable influence of Picasso on his practice. The works on view in this exhibition bear much in common with Longo’s “Heritage” series of 2006. Speaking of that earlier series, Longo described it as a form of educational therapy, in which reproducing artists' significant works on a small scale gave him a better understanding of their compositions.
Longo has always been deeply impressed by Picasso's unique assuredness of hand and by his inventiveness. In his interview in the Cahiers d’Art revue, he called Les Demoiselles d'Avignon his favorite Picasso painting, one that “marks the subjectivity of modern painting”, in which "Picasso was painting what he was feeling of what he saw. "The present exhibition includes Longo’s revisitation of that painting, Untitled (After Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907), 2016. In Longo’s Guernica Redacted [After Picasso’s Guernica, 1937], 2016, he engages one of Picasso's most famous works, which is also one of the strongest political statements ever painted, and it is a task he does not take lightly: "Re-creating my contemporary version of Picasso's Guernica”, he told Staffan Ahrenberg last year, “became not only a necessity, but also a challenge. The challenge was how to create a new picture of my own that would still carry the similar weight and impact as Picasso's original Guernica did and still does." The special archival pigment print published by Cahiers d'Art in an edition of three shows Longo's brilliant vision of, and homage to, Picasso's work, while reinforcing the masterpiece’s status in the present day. In this way, the image of Guernica comes to embody more than ever all the wars, suffering, and global conflicts of our time. In Cahiers d’Art, Longo reflected at length on his technique.
After experimenting with numerous versions over a period of time, I arrived at a critical conclusion where there are six black charcoal strips with various widths blocking and redacting content from the image of Guernica, as if it is too gruesome to be seen and refuses to be seen all at once. The tactic of these interventions allowed me the freedom to change Picasso’s original intended triangular composition and to call the attention to what’s been blocked. The black bars I added to the composition mimic filmstrips, the bars of a prison, and the redaction of secret correspondence. To undermine is to create a space where people can see what they can’t see or choose to ignore.