Rembrandt and Picasso at Odon Wagner (196 Davenport), to November 15. 416-962-0438. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Understand from the beginning that the paper-based work on display at Odon Wagner is not the best gathering of pieces you'll ever see by Picasso or Rembrandt . However, the show weds some strong prints with an engaging storyline to create a fun little art adventure. It happens that Picasso deeply admired the Dutch painter. In fact, he viewed Rembrandt as a sort of father figure. This show places Picasso's etchings and lithographs among Rembrandt's to expose the old master's influence.
The beginning of the exhibition, featuring a series of portraits of Rembrandt by Picasso intermingled with a series of Rembrandt self-portraits, is fascinating.
The Dutch master, ever the expert draughtsman, displays elegant and exacting line work in his prints, using cross-hatching to build depth and detail. His self-portraits depict a serious man with small, sensitive eyes and long hair controlled by a sloping hat. In one, his young wife sits complacently in the background.
Picasso's perspective on Rembrandt is infused with his own unruly personality. He makes Rembrandt into a blustery, chaotic swirl of lines curling into a mass of hair, with wild eyes jumping out of a pudgy face. Picasso's Rembrandt stares lustily at a beautiful model (where's the wife now?) drawn in simple, straight lines in contrast to the messy depiction of the artist.
The other interesting part of the show is an unfinished work by Rembrandt titled The Artist Drawing From The Model. This particular print wasn't inked heavily and thus looks half-empty. A reproduction of a more heavily inked print shows the simple line work Rembrandt used to sketch in the piece. Several prints from Picasso's hundred-plate Vollard series are on display here, and you can see how he intentionally left parts of the print unfinished to mimic the Rembrandt.