WhatMuseums & Galleries
6 years +
25/01/2020 - 13/04/2020
Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House, Piccadilly
The Royal Academy is on a roll at the moment. Hot on the heels of its Anthony Gormley show, our absolute highlight of last year, comes this giant of an exhibition and one we reckon is going to be a hit with children who love to doodle.
Making shapes out of scribbles; doodling on newspapers/menus/colouring books; cutting out, sticking together, creating collages... Children and their parents have been fashioning 'art' out of nothing for generations. It is fun, distracting and if you have an artistic child, it lays important building blocks for the future. And wow, what wonders were created out of the humblest of scraps by Picasso!
Displayed roughly chronologically, the first couple of rooms have some very early works - look at these cut outs (above), done when he was only 8 or 9; a host of wonders from the Blue and Rose periods; circus folk and delightful sketchbooks.
But it is with the start of the Cubist movement that the show really hits its stride for kids. With Cubism came collage (papier collé). There are glass vitrines holding delicate cut outs of squid, a pipe, a fire; layered canvases; 3D guitars and sets and costumes for the ballet Parade.
Look out for the Chameleon symbols on specific works inviting children to consider aspects of a piece and to start filling their sketch books. Find the shapes that make up the Cubist faces in the gallery and draw something using only those shapes; draw your design for a musical instrument using only household objects; watch the short video of the Erik Satie ballet next to the model of the 'costume' he created and think about how the dancers are moving.
Move into the late 20s and 1930s and the energy of the man is extraordinary. Bulbous, erotic images of his new lover; minotaurs; Franco, politics.
And at the end of this period the huge collage of Femmes a Leur Toilette. Kids will love peering in close and finding the different materials used to create the overall piece.
Then come the War years. Picasso in Paris scrabbling to draw on anything available to him - napkins, newsprint... one of the absolute joys of the show is the amount of jottings and sketches displayed, the sense of browsing through a working studio. After the War and there are lots more prints and fascinating detail about the printmaking process, including the printing press he used.
I loved the room devoted to his series on Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, complete with cardboard cut out sketches of the figures.
Don't miss the famous 1956 documentary, Le Mystery of Picasso. Children will love watching his drawings magically appear before them with the novelty of felt tip pens.
By the time you reach The Last Studio, covering the period from his final marriage in 1963 to his death in 1968, throughout which he was still producing extraordinary, colour-filled 'modern' art, the sheer length of time he has been alive becomes almost overwhelming. (Note: this may be a show you need two visits to get the most out of.)
When you come out, speechless at the scale of the life lived, you can refuel (and sketch!) in the pop up Picasso cafe in the gift shop.
19 Feb: Paper Animators Create your own abstract collage and animate it using stop-motion. 10am–12pm, 1.30pm–3.30pm, £18 per person.
21 Feb: Paper Pushers Make and illustrate a pop up book. Drop in, free.
10 April: Paper Making Family Workshop Make your own paper from scratch using traditional, and eco, techniques. 10am–12pm, 1.30pm–3.30pm, £18 per person.
Burlington House, Piccadilly
020 7300 8000
How to get there:
Tube to Green Park