Sixty Picassos -- dry points, etchings, aquatints, lithographs, engravings -- are hanging on the walls of Robert Brown Contemporary Art, 1005 New Hampshire Ave. NW. Not all of them are signed, but then they do not need to be. No one could mistake these Minotaurs and cuckolds, these warriors, clowns and shameless nymphs, these bullfighters and bulls -- they could only be Picasso's. With undiminished wonder, we once again experience here his protean inventiveness, his speed, his perfect pitch, his absolute assurance, his wry and restless mind.
He was, like Michelangelo, equally at home in two and three dimensions. His brush strokes conjure volumes, his slightest lines have weight. He was not much of a colorist, because he did not have to be: Picasso could draw colors. There are a hundred hues in his blacks and whites and grays.
Stupendously prolific, he made bronzes and ceramics, junk sculptures and cutouts, oil paintings, crayon drawings, pencil drawings, toys. He also produced books. The recent publication, by Patrick Cramer of Geneva, of a complete listing of his volumes -- which this exhibition celebrates -- cites 156 anthologies and albums and illustrated books. Some, for instance the "Twenty Poems" of Luis de Go'ngora y Argote, include scores of etchings. Almost all the prints on view come from such loose-leaf books.
Not many of these pictures are conventional illustrations; most are free responses to the texts that they accompany. For the verses of Go'ngora (who was born in 1561) Picasso portrayed women he encountered in the 1940s, Dora Maar, Franc,oise Gilot and others from his dreams. For the posthumous publication, in 1966, of Pierre Reverdy's last poem, "Sable Mouvant" ("Quicksand"), Picasso picked 10 aquatints all dealing with the theme of the artist and the model.
For "Carmen" (1960), Picasso, not surprisingly, drew matadors and picadors and ladies in mantillas. To illustrate the Eighth Pythian Ode of Pindar, a poem first presented (i.e. sung) in 446 B.C., he made dry points of Greek heroes, athletes and warriors, whose broad shoulders and narrow hips suggest the 4,700-year-old statues of the Cyclades. For Fernand Crommelynck's farce "The Magnificent Cuckold," he transformed the Minotaur, his familiar alter ego, into a horned, potbellied clown.
The Crommelynck album, from an edition of 200, includes one Picasso signature but a dozen Picasso etchings. It sells for $4,500, which seems a reasonable price. The show closes Nov. 2. Richard Hunt's Sculpture
Richard Hunt, the distinguished Chicago sculptor, is the first artist to exhibit in the new Martin Gallery, which has moved from Georgetown to 2427 18th St. NW in Adams-Morgan. It is about time Hunt had a show here. Although he does his finest work in intractable materials, in bronze and welded steel, his forms appear to flow, and as you move around them, they take on the fluidity of the shifting shapes you see in wind-tossed branches, breaking waves, candle flames and dreams.
Hunt has learned to make continuums of metal. His sculptures do not block the eye, and they do not block the mind. Though at first they seem abstract, they enlist all sorts of reveries and memories and references, some modern, some antique.
The small welded-steel piece that he calls "Hybrid Form" (1964) conjures up at once both Nike and Diana. Its back-flung wings and forward stride suggest, at least at first glimpse, the Winged Victory in the Louvre, but the moment the viewer receives that recognition, it flows into another. That wing becomes a blossom, and that folded drape in turn becomes the small, adoring head of one of Diana's deer.
"Minoana" (1980), as its name suggests, evokes one of those small, long-skirted and high-breasted statuettes from Crete; her arms are held above her head, if those forms are arms; they might be writhing snakes or the pointed horns of some sacred Minoan bull.
Those sorts of transformations occur often in this show. "Bridging and Branching," a cast bronze of 1981, begins as the sort of rounded, high-backed bridge that might cross a stream in a formal Chinese garden, and then dissolves into a graceful branch, with flowers, of the sort that one might see on an Oriental scroll.
Hunt's art is never belligerent. It encourages one's questions. His smaller statues here have the scale of the table top; the larger ones are big enough to command a lawn. Hunt is an original. Though his prints are also on display, his sculptures rule this show. It closes Nov. 14. Steven Campbell's Paintings
Scotland's Steven Campbell, 31, a working man from Rutherglen, had labored seven years in a steel mill in Glasgow when, in 1977, he suddenly said to hell with it and gave himself to art. It was a good decision. Since then he's won a Fulbright and a studio in New York and a growing reputation. Now his strange, vivid pictures are at Middendorf's, 2009 Columbia Rd. NW.
He may have left the mill, but leaving Scotland proved less easy. His pictures all acknowledge the history and spirit of that story-laden, ghost-infested, wild northern land.
Wet tweeds and heather-scented glens, guns and stags and dangers are all mixed together in "Two Hunters Immobilized by an Excessive Use of Bark Camouflage" (1985). In "The Re-Illustrated Highland Diary of Queen Victoria" ("re-illustrated" because she illustated her own), her majesty, her prince, the partridges he shot and the frescoes Landseer painted for Balmoral all appear together. Argyll's rocky coast, and walled kitchen gardens, and John Buchan's spies all have roles to play in Campbell's storytelling art.
Too much Scottish painting is either tartan-strangled, twee, or so in love with landscape that it ignores the Scots. But Campbell's work is thoroughly robust. It is also entertaining. It will remain on view through Nov. 2.