Pablo Picasso

If you want to find out exactly why the Spaniard is considered to be art’s greatest genius of the 20th century, go to the Gargosian Gallery in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Hill, which is staging a stunning exhibition of his work under the title Minotaurs & Matadors, turn right from the lobby into a room devoted to the corrida and examine a series of 11 drawings of bulls on the left-hand wall. The sequence, completed in six weeks over Christmas 1945, begins with a busy, rather traditional image of a bull. Then slowly the delineations are withdrawn until by Work No11 the huge animal is rendered with fewer than a dozen strokes. Yet this minimalist outline, almost a logo for Picasso, captures, even underscores, the essential power of a creature that plays such a symbolic role in the human psyche in a way that the traditional drawing cannot. It also connects with the Cro Magnon cave-drawings of giant aurochs, bringing Man’s eternal search for cultural and spiritual meaning full circle. The works are on display until the end of August, so no excuse to miss out. The rest of the exhibition, curated by Picasso’s friend and biographer John Richardson, is pretty bloody marvellous too.

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