Pablo Picasso. the Celestine

curated by Alessandra Bigi Iotti

Sismondo Castle piazza Malatesta April 28th – July 15th 2018

The Celestine is a suite of 66 engravings – etching, acquiescent and punt – made by Picasso in 1968 to illustrate the satirical tragedy the Celestine probably wrote by Fernando de Rojas,, first spanish dramatical work published in Burgos in 1499. It tells about the tragicomic story of Celestine, fatal and ironic feminine symbol. The plot is simple: in order to gain a worthy reward, old and clever Celestina acts as intermediary in the sentimental affair of Calisto and Melibea. The storyline concludes in tragedy: the accidental death of Calisto, the dishonor and consequent suicide of Melibea; also Celestina and his accomplices died.

The Rojas’ romance was suddenly one of the most important literary and editorial cases of spanish culture. “It was compared to the discovery, made in the same years, of New World mines, as the mine of the national spanish theater. Firstly was called Tragedia di Calisto e Melibea than the italian renaissance rename as the Celestina, and with this name impose it in the Europe.”

To the further manuscript editions, briefly followed a huge number of translations all around Europe; rereadings and reassessment cross various literary gender, from theater to poetry until dialogue. This story, which spin around love, money and betrayal was always dear to Picasso, who collected various editions.

The original edition translated into french by Pierre Heugas – made in 400 numbered pieces and signed on Canton du Moulin Richard-de Bas papers – and illustrated by Picasso, continues and renews this tradition. The 66 engravings by an 87 years old Picasso, made with an expressive urgency disruptive and obsessive ( from 11 April to 18 August 1968), are a life story, a sagacious and ironic narration of his erotic and oniric imaginary. We know that he was deeply looking forward to see prints just made by Aldo and Piero Crommelinck brothers, whom had built their atelier in Mougins, where Picasso lived with Jacqueline.

Picasso interest for Celestine figure, as it known, dates back at least to famous portrait of middle blind old procurer, the Celestina indeed (1904), created during the period spent in Barcelona and masterpiece of the so-called Blue Period.

The collection drawing elaborate always, with a compulsive attitude, some of the beloved issues to the artist giving the idea of a “prankester/joker” Picasso that notes, unseen, and tell with liveliness and irony world grotesque aspects through poetic and irreverent images.

Different proceedings which employs the master – in fact he worked from acquiescent to etching, to engravings a dry easly- such as experimental workshop. Because, moreover, “Picasso doesn’t seek, he finds”.

“Painter and models” theme came back with obsessive resolution in many Celestina acquiescent, reinterpreted and reworked mainly with the technique just underlined and characterise by the dramatic contrast of the white and black, as an audacious recovery of the spanish gloomy peinture of XVII century. Equally narrow is the relationship with the cycle “Raffaello e la Fornarina”, in which, similarly, Picasso from different point of view- ecclesiasticals, exotics eccentrics clothes and in the last one moderns clothes – spy the love stories between Raffaello and Fornarina, at the century Margarita Luti da Siena.

For a long time Picasso works have been interpreted just as pornographic representations made by the old artist for powering his wish now off. But the intricacy of their meaning were called into question in 1972 from Gert Schiff and Leo Steinberg writing, that puts into light the metaphor done by the artist. Picasso choose Raffaello because represent the painter for excellence, the immortal myth and timeless painting. Artist loves what he paint – his model – and doing it, he loves the painting. The voyeur is the instrusive eye of a third person, the audience.

Every attendant, watching a painting, is peering into artist intimate creative process, he spies that act of love between the author, his subject and the painting. Sex vital energy is in Picasso art a metaphor of his creative power. An effective metaphor for Picasso who, as Raffaello, was known for his love affairs and his lovers, often models of his works.