Having set to close at the Royal Academy of Arts in April, the exhibition is still available to view online.

Women at Their Toilette, Paris, winter 1937–38
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.

It would be fair to say that over the years the public has been spoilt with Picasso exhibitions. But with this one at the Royal Academy of Arts, it finds a refreshingly unique approach to the artist by exploring how he was able to use paper in a multitude of ways.

This mammoth of an exhibition takes visitors through Picasso’s early years and blue period, all the way through to his final years in which he created some of his most memorable pieces. While it is excellent that the Royal Academy has managed to put together such an extensive and detailed exhibition – it does feel as though the approach to the subject gets a little bit lost along the way.

For example, there are sections which really enhance the topic, particularly closer to the end of the exhibition when there is a stronger focus on his collages and cut outs which highlight the artist’s interest in showing objects as a mass of shapes, allowing the viewer to see them differently. However, it is not always consistent in terms of its focusing on the way in which he used paper .

Despite this, it is still a fascinating exhibition to look at – even when viewing online as it does highlight just how bold Picasso was in terms of changing direction in terms of his style. To transform from creating celebrated works such as ‘La Vie’ and delicate pieces such as ‘The Harem’ all the way to his work in cubism, reveals an artist who rarely wanted to settle to one style, making his work consistently exciting.

The display also manages to capture and show just how Picasso developed his work through stages as his works with nudes such as the study for ‘Nude with Drapery’ and study for ‘Standing Nude’ reveal. It does consistently feel as though you are seeing the development of his work as a whole rather than doing what other exhibitions do and focus on one element of it.

It would also be fair to say that there are plenty of works that fascinate and capture different elements of Picasso’s changing emotions and ability to convey that through his subjects – as seen through the works on display on the World War II focused section.

Overall, it is an impressive exhibition but it feels as though it too big and would have been better with less works and a stronger focus.

By Emma Clarendon

Picasso and Paper is available to view online through the Royal Academy’s Youtube channel here.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐