Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris Opens at the de Young Museum in San Francisco on June 11

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. April 2011—The de Young Museum announces a major exhibition by the seminal artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. The exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, opens on Saturday, June 11, in the Herbst Special Exhibition Galleries and runs through October 9, 2011. This exhibition of 150 important paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings created by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) is drawn from the permanent collection of the Musée National Picasso, Paris, the largest and most significant repository of the artist’s work in the world, and comes to the de Young as part of an international tour. The artwork is touring because the Musée is currently closed and undergoing a multi-year renovation expected to last through 2012. Ranging from informal sketchbooks to finished iconic masterpieces, this unique collection of “Picasso’s Picassos” provides significant proof of the artist’s assertion that “I am the greatest collector of Picassos in the world.”

“This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition comprises works from every phase of Picasso’s extraordinary career, including masterpieces from his Blue, Rose, Expressionist, Cubist, Neoclassical and Surrealist periods,” describes John E. Buchanan, Jr., director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “These works present eloquent testimony to his role as a protean figure who not only created and contributed to new art forms and movements, but also forever transformed the very definition of art itself. Following on the heels of our recent exhibitions of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, this exhibition represents a natural progression forward to the masterworks of the 20th century.”

“The exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris lifts the curtain on the first act of a groundbreaking partnership between the Musée Picasso and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, with the intention of deepening our institutional, artistic and scientific links over the coming decade,” says Anne Baldassari, general commissioner and president of the Musée National Picasso.

The exhibition, co-organized by the Musée National Picasso and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, is part of a world tour that began in 2008 with stops at museums in Madrid, Helsinki, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Seattle, Richmond (VA), San Francisco and Sydney.

The Musée National Picasso’s collection preserves the highly personal works that Pablo Picasso kept for himself with the intention of shaping his own artistic legacy. Exhibited chronologically, covering all the phases of the modern master’s expansive eight-decade-long career and featuring the various media in which he worked, this meticulously assembled presentation includes:

  • One of his earliest Paris works—The Death of Casagemas (1901)
  • The Blue period—La Célestine (1904)
  • The Rose period—The Two Brothers (1906)
  • African-inspired proto-Cubist work —studies for Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Three Figures Under a Tree (1907)
  • Analytic Cubism—Man with a Guitar (1911)
  • Synthetic Cubism—Violin (1915)
  • The Neoclassical period—Two Women Running on the Beach (1922)
  • Surrealism—The Kiss (1925)
  • The war years—The Weeping Woman (1937), and the sculptures Bull’s Head (1942) and Death’s Head (1943)
  • Work from his late period including the self-portrait The Matador (1970)

Picasso developed a unique personal style for each new woman in his life, and remarked, “How awful for a woman to realize from my work that she is being supplanted.” The exhibition chronicles Picasso’s tempestuous relationships with three of the significant women in his life and demonstrates how his work changed with each relationship:

  • His first wife Olga Khokhlova, realistically depicted in Portrait of Olga in an Armchair (1918)
  • Mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, whose affair with Picasso began when she was 17, portrayed in voluptuous curves, pastel colors and soft sinuous volumes in Reclining Nude (1932) and a series of five bronze busts created in 1931 that range from recognizable representations to the nearly abstract.
  • Mistress Dora Maar, the photographer whose passionate and emotionally charged relationship with Picasso was represented in works characterized by hard-edged, jagged lines, angular forms and acidic colors, such as Portrait of Dora Maar (1937).

Sculpture plays an important part in the exhibition, demonstrating Picasso’s aesthetic three-dimensionally and featuring work that spans Picasso’s career, including an early bust, The Jester (1905); Figure (1907), a roughly hewn wooden piece inspired by Picasso’s fascination with African tribal art; Head of a Woman (1909), widely considered the first Cubist sculpture; the relief construction Guitar and Bottle of Bass (1913); a multimedia assemblage, The Violin (1915); the Bull’s Head (1942), constructed from a cast-off bicycle seat and handlebars; the iconic bronze The Goat (1950); and the life-sized, six-piece figurative series created during a summer in Cannes, The Bathers (1956).

“I haven’t got a style,” Picasso claimed, but over the course of his long and prolific career, he created revolutionary works that laid the foundations of modern art.

About the Musée National Picasso
The Musée National Picasso, which opened in 1985 in the 17th-century Hotel Sale in the Marais District of Paris, serves as the repository for nearly 3,600 works from the artist’s personal collection that passed to the French government following his death in 1973.

España at Twilight
Enjoy extended hours and reduced ticket prices for the special exhibition on Wednesday evenings from June 15 through August 31, when the exhibition will be open until 8:45 pm. The de Young Café will present a special prix-fixe menu and the museum’s Tower will be open for sunset viewing. The permanent collection galleries are closed on Wednesday evenings.

A lavishly illustrated catalogue of the exhibition, Picasso: Masterpieces From the Musée National Picasso, Paris, co-published with Flammarion/Skira is available through the Museum Store. $65 hardcover \ $37.50 softcover.

This exhibition is co-organized by the Musée National Picasso, Paris, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Bank of the West is Presenting Sponsor. Christie’s and Hanson Bridgett LLP are Sponsors. Major Patrons are Penny and James George Coulter and the Estate of Mary Price Moffatt. Lead Patrons are The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund, The Bernard Osher Foundation and Douglas A. Tilden. Lead Sponsors are Isabelle and Charles Picasso.