Diego Rivera, Creation of the Universe [Illustration for Popol Vuh], 1931, watercolor on paper, 12 1/4 18 7/8". From the series “Popol Vuh,” 1931. D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time”

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART (LACMA)
LOS ANGELES
Through May 7
Curated by Diana Magaloni, Michael Govan, Juan Coronel Rivera, James Oles, Jennifer Stager

Accompanied by a dense and lushly illustrated catalogue, this exhibition uncovers Picasso’s and Rivera’s parallel interests in antiquity—Mediterranean and pre-Columbian, respectively. A dozen great paintings from the teens suggest that, as a Cubist, Rivera possessed a sensibility that was as close to Juan Gris’s as to Picasso’s. But paintings are not the only attraction here: The show is notable for its wide range of media and epochs. Plaster casts that the two studied in school (and drawings by both artists of identical replicas) rub shoulders with bronze mirrors, classical vases, pre-Columbian carvings, and other artifacts, allowing us to see how Pablo and Diego drew, and drew from, the distant past. Another intriguing comparison is between Picasso’s etchings of the 1930s on Ovidian themes and Rivera’s 1931 watercolor illustrations of the Popol Vuh creation myth, which could not be more different. As for who gets the prize, let’s just say that being paired with Picasso is no picnic. Travels to Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, June 14–Sept. 17.

— Harry Cooper