Thursday, January 20, 2011

Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, at the Seattle Art Museum

We, the people of Seattle, had the pleasure of hosting a collection of Pablo Picasso works usually housed at the Musée National Picasso in Paris. The exhibit at the SAM ran October 8, 2010, through January 17, 2011. I regretted not visiting prior to closing weekend. My partner in crime and I had to talk our way in without our printed e-mails, past the massive lines, past security and past the second checkpoint to arrive daunted to the collection of 150 pieces and move through the galleries as if maneuvering on a giant Twister mat.

“Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.”

picasso_casagemas1901The show began with early works including La mort de Casagemas (The Death of Casagemas), inspired by the suicide of a close friend, Carles Casagemas. His early style betrays the influence of Vincent Van Gogh on the young Picasso. Casagemas’s death had such a profound effect on the artist, it set him onto his Blue Period (1901-04) where he painted in melancholy hues of cool greys and muted blues. Pieces from the Rose Period saw a shift into rose, pink and orange tones. His favorite subjects remained those on the edge of society, clowns, performers and acrobats.

“It took me 4 years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

Guitar & Bottle of BassFollowing the Rose Period, Picasso turned a corner, influenced by African art, as evidenced in his piece Three Figures Under a Tree.

“God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.”

The Cubist years transitioned into realism and figurative works. And, then, the art influenced by  the women, his children and the wars. One of the points repeatedly stated was that Picasso never worked in a straight line from one style or period to the next. He liked to be ambiguous in his art and symbolism. The beauty of this collection is that it contains a remarkable array of media – paintings, etchings, collages (some made of wood and metal), pencil drawings, colored pencil drawings, sculptures and even photographs. You are struck by his prolific nature and dedication. It’s neat to view the collection as it flows and morphs from one period into the next.

“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.”

Portrait of Dora MaarPerhaps my favorite piece, Portrait of Dora Maar, speaks with the bold colors, the rigidness of the figure and the red pointy nails. A photographer, she endured nine years with Picasso before he moved on to his next mistress.

“Art is never chaste.”

I could write much more but it sounds like I’m rubbing it in, especially since the show has closed. If you’re willing to travel, there’s hope. After Seattle (the first US stop), the exhibit moves to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, Virginia) from February 19 – May 15. After that it will be on display June 11 – September 18 at the de Young Museum of San Francisco. If you don’t make the US stops, there’s always the Musée National Picasso in Paris, where the art pieces will end up again when the museum reopens after renovations in 2012 (which is why the pieces were on travelling exhibit). À bientôt!

1 comment:

Kristi said...

Really nice write up there sister. Completely enjoyed this exhibit (and i'm not a museum fan) and this time with my dear friend. Glad you got the quotes in. You did a nice job tricking them in at great transition times.