Picasso expert Pierre Daix has written that the Catalan artist Santiago Rusiñol exercised a crucial influence on the young Picasso. This exhibition aims to explore this claim in depth and establish the elements of influence and confluence between the two artists by way of a comparative reading, both biographical and iconographic.
Organized jointly by the Museu Picasso and Cau Ferrat in Sitges, Rusiñol-Picasso will put on show for the first time the strong links between the two artists on the basis of the thesis developed by its curator, Eduard Vallès, in his recent book Picasso i Rusiñol. La cruïlla de la modernitat (Consorci del Patrimoni de Sitges, Barcelona 2008).
The paths of the two artists crossed at a time when their respective careers were in transition: Picasso was emerging from the academic tutelage of his father and the art schools he had attended and Rusiñol, though a highly acclaimed artist, was no longer the paradigm of modernity he had once been.
When Picasso first arrived in Barcelona Rusiñol was one of the city's most renowned artists. It is worth noting that a number of the themes the young Picasso tackled had their origin in pioneering works by Rusiñol. Picasso even painted his own versions of some of Rusiñol's pictures, an indication the works that made of how closely he followed the older man's work.
The great attraction that Picasso was to feel for the work of El Greco throughout his life first manifested itself precisely at the time when Rusiñol was championing him.
Rusiñol was also one of the first collectors of Picasso's work and thus one of the first to perceive their value. A number of these Rusiñol Picassos are in Cau Ferrat in Sitges, the private museum founded by Rusiñol which Picasso visited on several occasions, both as a young man and in his mature years. In fact, during the 1960s Picasso made some little-known illustrations based on Rusiñol's most famous work, L'auca del Senyor Esteve; these are also part of this exhibition, and show that the connection between the two artists still endured long beyond Picasso's Barcelona years.