Pablo Picasso, Bull, 1958. Plywood, tree branch, nails, and screws, 117.2 x 144.1 x 10.5 cm.

Pablo Picasso

New York

Museum of Modern Art

Eighty years of Modernist bombast has masked Picasso’s work in hyperbole, diminishing comprehension and neglecting what’s most interesting about it. At this point in time, Picasso’s two-dimensional work is cliché, but his three-dimensional work astonishes. It is insanely compulsive, almost hallucinogenic. Immense biomorphic and figurative abstractions; bulbous, florid surfaces; huge bronzes impressed with irrational patterns; diagrammatic metal structures that resemble folded paper; steel cages—an enormous body of work that’s almost incomprehensible in its variety. Picasso casually exploded categories—his cut, painted, cast, and assembled works make use of everything. What wasn’t already out there (Picasso routinely cannibalized the work of other artists, notably non-Western ones), he made up, simultaneously changing the definition of sculpture. Often without consciousness of the debt, sculptors such as Louise Bourgeois, Stephan Balkenhol, and Kiki Smith owe their careers to splinters of ideas that Picasso generated and then discarded. Most people know Picasso’s sculptures through the licensed images repeatedly reproduced in art …see the entire review in the print version of May’s Sculpture magazine.