Picasso in Two Colors

Pablo Picasso, The Milliner’s Workshop (Atelier de la modiste), Rue La Boétie, P
Pablo Picasso, The Milliner’s Workshop (Centre Pompidou, Paris © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: © CNAC/MNAM/Dist. Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY)

Jed Perl reviews the exhibition Picasso Black and White at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, on view through January 23, 2012.

Perl writes that "if black and white was sometimes a shorthand for Picasso - and even occasionally a copout - it was also a way of cutting away the fat, of getting to the essentials... for Picasso the monochromatic palette fueled both a classical reticence and austerity and a romantic feverishness and hyperbole. Although black and white can surely be a vehicle for virtuosic display, there is a nakedness about Picasso’s greatest black-and-white works, a sense that this supreme artistic trickster has decided to deny himself some of the tricks of the trade. Of course in the context of this exhibition, black and white encompasses a rainbow of grays, from silken to inky, from plangent to opaque."