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Revealed at the Sofitel St James – photographs of famous artists at work

September 16, 2015

ArtsPhotography | by Harry Seymour

In celebration of fifty years of French elegance, the Sofitel Hotel St James, London, is host to a small but inspirational photography exhibition curated by Pablo Picasso’s grandson, Olivier Wildmaier Picasso. In an attempt to understand the creative journey, from conception to completion, Revealed presents thirty unique photographs of some of the twentieth century’s most revered artists at work. During these fleeting moments of photographic intrusion, one artist is exposed by the lens of another and suddenly their artistic milieu becomes poignantly laid bare for the world to see.

Photo credits: J. Garofalo, M. Simon / Paris Match
Photo credits: J. Garofalo, M. Simon / Paris Match

The carefully selected photographs, collated by Olivier Wildmaier Picasso from the archives of French Society magazine Paris Match, present an audacious exploration into artistic genius and more particularly the intimacy of the private atelier. The artist’s atelier, their muses and their work-in-progress are displayed as a reflection of the artistic soul. An insight into the creative process of artists from Picasso to Dali, Chagall to Matisse and Koons to Hockney, makes Olivier Wildmaier Picasso’s exhibition both compelling and brutally honest.

Unsurprisingly, photographs of Pablo Picasso and his muses dominate the exhibition. Picasso in the studio of the villa La Californie, accompanied by his muse and future wife Jacqueline Roque, 1960, is one of the most famous and recognisable photographs on display, whilst the monochrome photograph of Picasso painting his Bardot-esque model, Sylvette David, in The Vallauris studio, 1954, is arguably the most compositionally intriguing. This particular photograph shows the multi-layered narrative of Picasso’s works and the artistic process from conception to completion. Both painter and model dominate the foreground, while his preparatory realist sketches fill the mid-ground and the final distorted cubist work engulfs the background.

If the photography alone is not enough to entice you to the Sofitel St James, the deliciously bespoke Revealed cocktails on offer to visitors throughout the duration of the exhibition, should be. The St. Germain and The Revealed have been conceptualised by Parisian based mixologists, in partnership with St-Germain, the only 100% elderflower liquor, and they are utterly delectable. Sip on a cocktail whilst ambling around the exhibition space where brasserie music tinkles in the background and let yourself be transported to the romantic heyday of mid-twentieth-century bohemian Paris.

Revealed privileges above all else the mesmerising talent of our modern masters. In the diverse range of photographs on display, honesty replaces masquerade, rendering Olivier Wildmaier Picasso’s exhibition one of London’s most delightful temporary installations.

By Lucy Scovell

Sofitel St James, 10 September – 31 October 2015, 10:00am – 6:00pm.