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September 23, 2017

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Picasso, Duchamp face-off in Stockholm

STOCKHOLM--Stockholm's Museum of Modern Art is pitting Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, two of the 20th century's Modernist greats, against each other in a new exhibition showcasing their contrasting approaches to art.

The title "He Was Wrong" is based on Picasso's reputed laconic remark on learning of Duchamp's death in 1968.

The exhibition is a "theatrical" posthumous meeting of the two greats, museum curator Daniel Birnbaum said of the pair who each had a famous dislike for the other's works and who never met.

The Moderna Museet has a fine collection of works by the two influential artists often described as rivals and incompatible, with Picasso the prolific painter and Duchamp the conceptual creator who challenged painting as an art form.

But the museum has never before organized a showing of their oeuvres side by side.

"There is really a difference between Duchamp's detachment and Picasso's subjectivity. When these two things come together, it doesn't go very well," exhibition curator Ronald Jones told AFP.

"Picasso is the great painter, and the other is the one who questioned the very nature of an artwork," Birnbaum added.

Picasso churned out paintings over a career spanning seven decades, while the more humble Duchamp prided himself on a small body of work, delivering just 13 "readymades" over four decades.

The two giants began their careers around the same time, had the same patrons, and sometimes the same supporters and admirers. What divided them was their way of getting their message across, according to Jones.

"Marcel wouldn't have cared" about his works being exhibited alongside Picasso's, but "Picasso probably wouldn't have liked it so much," mused Jones.

"At the end of his life, (Picasso) was quite concerned by the allegiance artists were showing to Duchamp. He despised Duchamp," he added.

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