Barcelona Cultura

'Picasso understood the basic principles of historical ceramics'. Interview with Salvador Haro

We talked to Salvador Haro, Professor at the University of Malaga and academic specialist in Picasso's ceramics, gives us some insight about the exhibition Picasso's wish. The ceramics that inspired the artist.

Regarding the donation of the 16 pieces made by Picasso to the Barcelona Art Museums, to what extent is this set representative of Picasso's ceramics? Do you think there is an intention behind the selection made by Llubià?

The set is very representative, as it contains plates of different shapes, jugs, objects by Suzanne Ramié, tiles, original prints... In only 16 works, much of the variety of Picasso's production in this medium is collected. Llubià's participation in the selection was undoubtedly decisive. And this is a singular fact, since in other donations made by the artist, it was he himself who decided to donate.

What are the artist's influences in terms of his ceramic production? (Influences of ancient Mediterranean ceramics, Provençal, Spanish medieval...)

They are multiple, and often, mixed together. One of his great achievements was to be able to understand the basic principles of historical ceramics. This does not mean that he copied them, but that he was inspired by their laws, their iconic patterns and archetypes. In some cases, as in the Spanish plates, the influence is direct and clear, because after seeing the Spanish prototypes in the Cannes exhibition, he commissioned the Madoura workshop, where he worked, to produce them for him.

How did your ceramic work influence other media? Do we see a change in your work?

Indeed, his work in ceramics is reflected in the rest of his work, in the same way that many of his findings in other artistic fields are reflected in ceramics. This occurs at the level of themes, forms, techniques and even concepts. For instance there is the example of the short brushstrokes that the artist began to make on his ceramic plates, due to the high absorption of the clay. Determined by this technical singularity, he obtained very dynamic effects in his bullfighting scenes, which we later see transferred to other media.

Would you say that it is necessary to know ceramic production to understand Picasso's work?

Absolutely. We cannot ignore this or any other part of the artist's work, since it is necessary to contemplate Picasso's work as an organic whole, in which each part of the whole is closely interwoven with the rest. From this point of view it seems difficult to understand the traditional neglect of much of Picasso's criticism of ceramics.

Ajuntament de Barcelona