Thought and visual culture. #PicassoEdu

Català Castellano

On November 12 the department of educational services of the Picasso Museum invited us to release its new hashtag #PicassoEdu, intended as a space to gather experiences, observations and reflections on the works, exhibitions, workshops and all kinds of activities organized by the museum. On occasion of the inauguration of this new tool, they offered a guided visit to bloggers and cultural communicators, introducing a new type of experience they were beginning to apply in their tours for adults: the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS).

The VTS is a system that, as their authors claim, encourages visitors to speak to the work, to observe and dialogue, transforming the figure of the guide / educator into a moderator of a debate rather than a transmitter.

Anna Guarro, together with other members of the educational team and communication, guided us through four Picasso paintings that symbolize the stylistic and methodological evolution of the artist. The first one, Ciencia y caridad (Science and Charity) (1897), is a completely classical and academic painting, perfect in harmony, colour, shades and symbolism. He used this work to win a prize at the age of 15, and later, to start experimenting with textures, shape and perspective. Something that his father did not ever understand.

The second piece presented was La espera (Margot) (The Wait, Margot) (1901), in which the elusive strokes are much more clear, perceptibly linked to the Impressionist style. Experimentations with colours, shapes and textures, representing a freed young, an image of Paris at that time, city that the artist frequented.

The third painting was Azoteas de Barcelona (Roofs of Barcelona) (1903), with which, in a very clear way, he was already developing the rules of Cubism. A series of Barcelona roofs are the protagonists of the work. A cool and quiet atmosphere, with the typical creamy blue; a grid painting but with certain elements that clash in order to create that feeling of bewilderment, that he later would accentuate with multiple perspectives, cubes, etc.

The last piece was one of the best known of the painter: Las Meninas (1957). A fully adaptation that Picasso made of the Velazquez painting. A tribute, a wink, an intergenerational pictorial battle. They explained us that many of the children that visited the museum and who did not yet have the knowledge of the Baroque paintings, did not recognize the work.

This new system therefore, seeks to change the attitude of the visitors towards the painting, to move them from being just receivers into becoming interlocutors, something that, in fact, is what contemporary art aims to; playing with perceptions, questioning us and searching an answer in us, a feeling. Works that are actually completed in front of the viewer. This is not a remote system, we find it in many situation. For example in a typical museum tour, maybe not in an entire visit, but there is always a moment when the guide asks us what we see, what we feel, or what the work suggests. Especially in centres of contemporary art, concretely in visits for children; as is the case of the Museum of Modern Art in Tarragona, which has been using this strategy for a few years in school visits , accompanied by a manual activity; other centres, even in high schools, also use this strategy in art classes.

What this is about is to talk of visual culture, about what it awakes in us and what the element reminds us, linking what we already know with new inputs we receive, through an open dialogue. In essence, we talk of learning through the object, as the so called “object teaching” points out. This is an educational trend that focuses on the receiver as the main body to solve a “mystery”, which is the explanation that tells us  what it is (in the case of art) or what was that used for (in a historical context), etc.

In the case of the Picasso Museum, they have already been three years implementing this technique with school visits; they work the concepts of portrait, landscape, colours or shapes, using Picasso’s style but leaving children totally free, both in response and creating works. This year, moreover, they started to introduce the method it in the visits for adults. We’ll see how it goes 😉

Guiomar Sánchez Pallarès

Storify of the blogger event:
Imagen portada: Terrats de Barcelona, 1903. (Imagen recortada) Fuente: Blog Museu Picasso Barcelona

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