Every year, concurrently with the permanent presentation of its collections, the museum holds two major temporary shows. As a rule, their theme is based on the museum’s identity, history and collections, as well as on the desire to keep the institution open to current artistic activity.
Some exhibitions have a historical character, Chagall et l'avant-garde russe dans les collections du Musée national d'Art moderne /Chagall and the Russian Avant-garde in the collections of the Musée national d'Art moderne (5 March /29 May 2011).
Others are based on the museum’s collections. In the spring of 2010, Italian drawings, the first part of a triptych devoted to the museum’s collections of drawings. Followed, in 2011, by French drawings, and, in 2014, by Nordic drawings.
Others still emphasize contemporary art, Stephan Balkenhol, Sculptures et dessins. Sculptures and Drawings (30 October 2010 /23 January 2011)
Lastly, every year the museum reaches out to Grenoble’s inhabitants by offering an extra-muros exhibition in one of the city’s neighbourhood facilities.
The exhibition produced in partnership with the Picasso National Museum sets out to examine one of the darkest spells of the life and oeuvre of the Spanish master.
From the few months preceding the declaration of war on 3rd September 1939 to those following the victory of the allies on 8 May 1945, the exhibition will provide a monthly account of both the man and the artist’s daily activities and those painful years during which he was haunted by death and loneliness. The violence of the world is conveyed in his works through the use of a harsh style with fierce distortions, however the life force that is artistic creation fuels a hope that is materialised with ‘Man with a Sheep’, considered a symbol of artistic resistance to the occupier.
The exhibition’s chronological course will take visitors from the year he spent in Royan which coincides to the Phoney War period, to his settling in Paris during the Nazi occupation, in his workshop at rue des Grands-Augustins, whilst covering the most notable artistic landmarks of the time, among which L’Aubade (1942) and Man With A Sheep (1944), which are undeniably considered his top works.
During those years, faithful to his obsession with the female form, Dora Maar remaining for a while yet the main incarnation, Picasso always comes back to portrait and nude themes in its most varied forms with works such as The Lady With The hat, The Lady Sitting In An Armchair as well as The Lady Doing Her Hair.
The still-life is another one of Picasso’s favourite subjects and is rendered mostly as an allegory of indigence in those times when food was both scarce and rationed. Finally, Picasso conveys more explicitly, through the representation of animal skulls as well as human ones, the hardship of those terrible years and their muted violence with an authentic sense of tragedy that is reminiscent of his Spanish roots.