On 22 March Dantzig launched a pop-up exhibition of Pablo Picasso at South Moreton Boxing Club.
Not as unusual a choice of location as it might seem – as our Oxford Times article from this week’s paper makes clear (reproduced below)
Pablo Picasso was a colossus of 20th century culture.
He also felt strongly aligned with prize fighters and there are accounts of him taking his friends’ children to bouts of boxing.
In addition to his paintings which reference the sport, a photograph exists of Picasso engaged in a sparring match with his son Claude.
So I have to wonder, as we hang his works on the walls around the club, what Pablo himself would have made of the exhibition?
For five weeks Dantzig Gallery in Woodstock and South Moreton Boxing Club, near Didcot, are celebrating his legacy with Picasso Baby – a unique exhibition which serenades the artist’s life and work.
Our display happens to coincide with a blockbuster retrospective of the artist’s work at Tate Modern. And while it may be mere baby to a bigger show, it proves you don’t have to travel to London to experience great art.
Among exhibition highlights are colourful, original drawings and linocuts made by Picasso between 1930 and 1958.
These hang alongside etchings, lithographs and posters which unveil pivotal t
We begin with a selection from the 100 works made by Picasso in the 1930s, for his art dealer, Ambroise Vollard. Made against the backdrop of a darkening political situation in Europe, each has a compelling story to tell.
Picasso famously made these pictures, not for payment in hard cash, but in exchange for two paintings with which he had fallen in love – one by Renoir, the other a Cezanne.
The pictures feature the artist portrayed as a minotaur, pulsing with sex and ambition, ensnared by his mistress at the time, Marie-Therese Walter.
Also on our walls are the vibrant posters made by Picasso to promote displays of his work at Vallauris in the south of France – the town where his daughter Paloma was born, and where he was to marry for the last time, aged 79.
It was at Vallauris that Picasso began to experiment with ceramics – a medium which had boomed there since the Second World War, when an aluminium-shortage drove the French people to seek out old-style earthenware cooking pots.
Picasso’s partner at this time, the artist Francoise Gilot, later came to loathe the town, slamming it as a “citadel of bad taste.”
But these mid-1950s works gleam with the pizzazz of halcyon days on the Côte d’Azur hills.
Visitors will also have the chance to view a complete set of lithographs from Picasso’s 1948 Gongora Suit, executed in homage to Luis de Gongora – the standout poet of the Spanish Renaissance.
I’ve enjoyed many a late night discussion with John Houston, director of South Moreton Boxing Club and a fellow poetry enthusiast. It was as a result of these discussions that we began to sketch out this collaboration.
Picasso himself used boxing and boxers for subject matter in the early 1900s, and we believe Picasso Baby represents the perfect collision between artistic and sporting excellence.
Picasso Baby is at South Moreton Boxing Club, South Moreton, near Didcot until April 8. Young Guns: Modern British Pictures runs at Dantzig Gallery until April 4.