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Wexner Center features influences of Picasso in art exhibition

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“I just want a Picasso in my casa, no castle … I wanna row of Christie’s with my missy,” is a line from Jay Z’s song “Picasso Baby.”

With this in mind and the fact that the Wexner Center for the Arts is bringing “After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists” to Ohio State’s campus, one can see that the Wex understands the beauty of Pablo Picasso’s works just like Jay Z does.

“After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists,” the Wex’s fall exhibition, opens on Saturday and focuses on the impact and importance of Picasso. It is the exhibition’s only U.S. stop.

The exhibition features nearly 150 works in a variety of mediums and a version was first shown 25 years ago in Deichtorhallen, a museum located in Hamburg, Germany, where it was curated by Dirk Luckow, general director of Deichtorhallen.

Artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Jay Z, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, William Wegman, Louise Lawler, Sigmar Polke, Amy Sillman, Fred Wilson and Andy Warhol are featured in the exhibition, Wexner center spokesman Erik Pepple said in an email.

The exhibition, originally titled “Picasso in Contemporary Art,” will also be showcased in Germany.

The exhibition is the first that will include iPads as an in-depth interactive aspect. By including iPads, students and guests will gain a greater understanding of art from a different perspective, Pepple said.

“I am not a big fan of iPads and other ‘technological aids’ in art exhibitions, too often they simply discourage people from looking carefully at the work on display. In this case, however, I think there may be some real benefit,” Lisa Florman, chair of the Department of History of Art, said in an email.

Florman said technology will help visitors get inside the artists’ brains to understand where they are coming from.

“What the iPads will do is to give you images and a bit of information about the paintings or sculptures by Picasso that the contemporary artists are referring to — so that you’ll be in on the ‘joke,’ as it were,” she said.

Pepple agreed that few artists have impacted culture the way Picasso has, and added that this exhibition continues where previous Wexner Center exhibitions have left off.

“When this opened in Germany, the Wex realized that the scope and ambition was a perfect bookend to our ‘Transfigurations’ exhibition and allowed us to continue an exploration of Picasso,” he said. “We have relationships with museums, exhibitors and curators around the world all over. When a show as interesting and compelling as this comes around, it’s a pleasure to work with organizers to bring it here.”

A show of this complexity, featuring artists of such high reputation, should still be accessible to students, Florman said.

“Students should definitely not expect to know — or feel that they need to know — all 80 artists in the show. I don’t know all 80 artists in the show,” she said. “In some ways, the figure most central to the exhibition is the one who isn’t there: Picasso.”

Florman added that the show portrays the cumulative nature and influence in art throughout the years.

“What I most hope students will take away from ‘After Picasso’ is the idea that history, the past, matters … New work acquires much of its meaning from its relation to what has gone before, even when that relation is one of opposition. You can’t just invent out of thin air — and if you try, it’s likely to be nonsense,” Florman said.

Picasso’s magnitude has shaped many other contemporary artists and the Wex hopes it will influence students as well, Pepple said.

“Every student is different, of course, but we’ve found that those who attend our exhibitions are always engaged and thoughtful about what’s on view, no matter the medium,” he said.

Despite living in a world that is innovated with apps such as Instagram and Twitter, visitors will need  to contain their snapping urges. Taking pictures in the exhibition is forbidden.

Admission is $8 for the general public, $6 for OSU faculty, staff or anyone 65 and older, and free for any college student with an ID or those under the age of 18. All visitors are admitted to the exhibitions for free on Thursdays after 4 p.m. and on the first Sunday of each month. The exhibit will run through Dec. 27.

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