Pablo Picasso spent much of the summer of 1921 in a garage. Inside this unlikely studio in a rented villa in Fontainebleau, France, he worked prolifically to create a startling body of work. Among his most astonishing creations were two radically different, six-foot-high canvases that he painted side-by-side within weeks of each other: Three Women at the Spring and Three Musicians. Picasso in Fontainebleau will reunite these two monumental paintings, along with other works from the artist’s pivotal three-month stay at the improvised studio, complemented by photographs and archival documents.
Picasso’s simultaneous pursuit of disparate styles had enveloped the art world in controversy for several years. Had Picasso progressed or regressed? Was he avant-garde or academic? Revolutionary or reactionary? Critics were divided. These questions speak to the ways in which Picasso’s Fontainebleau output defies categorization and disrupts expectations of how artists evolve.
The exhibition will present four monumental canvases—two versions of Three Women at the Spring and two of Three Musicians—along with other paintings, drawings, pastels, and etchings made during the artist’s brief stay in Fontainebleau. Rarely seen photographs of the studio and the Picasso family will further contextualize the artist’s day-to-day life and artistic practice. The exhibition will also explore new discoveries about the process and experimental spirit that mark Picasso’s work in Fontainebleau.
Organized by Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, with Alexandra Morrison, Curatorial Assistant, and Francesca Ferrari, former Mellon-Marron Research Consortium Fellow, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death, MoMA’s exhibition is included in the international Picasso Celebration 1973–2023, with the exceptional support of the Musée National Picasso–Paris.