Montreal exhibit pairs Picasso with the kinds of African art he appropriated


In 1907, Pablo Picasso visited Paris’s Trocadero Museum, a repository for objects particular to France’s colonies. He had an epiphany of sorts while looking at carved African masks, which were becoming central to a craze for exotic tokens from “primitive” societies. Picasso, however, revered the masks’ anonymous makers, for showing, as he said, that “art is not an aesthetic process [but] a form of magic.” Their influence on his work continued long after what he called his “période nègre” ended in 1909.

Picasso’s debt to non-European artists has become a dynamic topic as museums try to decolonize their view of art and art-making. A current exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts displays nearly 100 pieces by Picasso, alongside the kinds of work that thrilled him…

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