PICASSO Kicks Ass at Gagosian

Picasso, Personnage, 1971, 76 3/4 x 27 1/2 inches, oil on canvas

Picasso, Femme, 1972, 76 3/4 x 27 1/2 inches, oil on canvas

Picasso, Buste, 1970, 39 1/2 x 32 inches, oil on canvas
All images from the Gagosian website

The dozens of brilliantly rough and ready paintings in the Mosqueteros exhibition are from a brief few years near the end of Picasso's life. It might be easy to dismiss the rarely shown late work as the elderly Picasso simply rehashing his own conventions -- that is until you actually see a group of the paintings. Of course his "conventions" became the language of Modern painting. So it can indeed be difficult to get past our patent familiarity -- the history, the iconic identity of these works as "Picassos". But once we see them not as logos but as paintings -- raw and immediate -- they look as if they were done yesterday -- except that nobody now can paint like this. There is almost nothing rehashed or complacent here -- virtually every painting in this extensive selection contains some probing element of surprise, protean improvisation, direct pictorial invention. This is an absolutely magnificent show -- at Gagosian on 21st Street through June 6.