There is no connection between the two titular items except that I visited both last week.
Tate Modern hosts a large and spectacular exhibition of Picasso in the year 1932. His output during that year was prodigious as he battled his critics and his demons to demonstrate that he was still both artistically relevant and a great artist. The year focussed around a large retrospective exhibition in Paris in June and his subsequent move to a small chateau, Boisgeloup in Normandy (according to the exhibition. The Tate’s own Introduction to Picasso places this move in 1930: Loretti, 2018, p. 20). Whenever it was, it gave him the space to sculpt and to enjoy a large painting studio.
The doorway to the new sculpture studio, Boisgeloup, 1932
Here are some of the works which, for various reasons, caught my eye:
Bust of a woman Cement 1931
One of many studies of a woman in an armchair
Portrait of Olga (his wife) in an armchair Oil on canvas 1918
The Three Dancers Oil on canvas 1925
Left and below are both called The Rescue, two of a number of studies of this scene. Personally, I found it particularly interesting to see the abstract below, superficially inexplicable perhaps, so readily explained by the figurative painting to the left.
Boisgeloup in the rain Oil on fabric 1932
A rare Picasso of a landscape – well, at least there is a skyline in the background. Years ago, I painted a small work of a small town, Ste Enimie, in the gorge of the R.Tarn in southern France based in style on a postcard image of this painting, so I was delighted to see an original.
This small selection does not do justice to a large exhibition showing an enormous range in Picasso’s styles and media assembled, almost exclusively, from his output in 1932. Even if you can’t afford the outrageous entry fee of £20, go if you can.
Two days after the Tate Modern I was in Melton Old Church, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, visiting an exhibition at the other end of the artistic spectrum. The exhibition, illustrating the year’s work of a local group of amateur artists, was modest and sincere. A friend of ours, Linda Thomas, was showing some of her paintings though, like Picasso, she is a very good sculptor too; and her landscapes are rather better than Picasso’s, judging by the example above! I bought one last year.
This year, however, what really caught my eye was what appeared to be the remains of a mound immediately outside and south of the church tower. Its possible context, boldly stated as the first words in the modest church guidebook, is ‘The Saxon Manor of Melton belonged to the Abbot of Ely and a church has stood on this site from that time.’ A Saxon amulet was found in the 19th century in the churchyard.
Of course I am aware that ‘mounds’ close to church walls can be very misleading but I just wonder about this raised area: it appears to have been cut by the west tower, built in 1446. On the other hand, this now small church has been modified several times, not least when a larger parish church was built a mile away in 1868; and a box grave, topped by a surrounding iron railing, sits on and in the mound and could well account for present appearances. Just a thought, nevertheless ….
Viewed from west of the Old Church’s 15th century west tower, the mound, crowned by the iron railings, can just be seen with its north scarp falling about 70 cms down to the level of the west door and its southern slope tailing away between the grave-stones to the right.