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Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris

Fri Oct 8 2010 – Mon Jan 17 2011

Seattle Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum is excited to present a landmark exhibition of the work of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), arguably the most radical and influential artist of the 20th century. The exhibition presents iconic works from virtually every phase of Picasso’s legendary career, documenting the full range of his unceasing inventiveness and prodigious creative process.

Drawn from the collection of the Musée National Picasso in Paris—the largest and most important repository of the artist’s work in the world—the exhibition features more than 150 extraordinary paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs. This unprecedented opportunity is possible at this time because the Musée Picasso has recently closed for renovations, allowing a global tour of this full-scale survey to travel for the first and, very likely, the only time.

The Musée Picasso’s holdings stand apart from any other collections of Picasso because they represent the artist’s personal collection—works that the highly self-aware artist kept for himself with the intent of shaping his own artistic legacy.

Every major period from the artist’s prolific output over eight decades is represented, including the Blue Period La Celestina (1904), Rose Period The Two Brothers (1906), African art–inspired Three Figures Under a Tree (1907), Cubist Man with a Guitar (1911), and the classicizing Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race) (1922), to speak of only the first quarter of his career.

Highlights from the period associated with his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter and his provocative dissolution of the human form include a quintet of Head of a Woman bronzes from 1931 and the portrait Reading from 1932, while another muse, Dora Maar, is represented in many guises, from stately beauty in Portrait of Dora Maar (1937) to emotional wreck in Weeping Woman from the same year.

Picasso’s lengthy career spanned both world wars, the Spanish civil war and the Korean War, and each conflict exerted a presence in his work. The impending chaos of World War II, for instance, is reflected in such canvases as Man with a Straw Hat and Ice Cream Cone (1938) and Cat Seizing a Bird (1939), while his consistent challenges to sculptural tradition are traced with such icons as Head of a Bull (1942), The Goat (1950) and the grand figurative group The Bathers (1956).

Renewed interest in his late period is also amply sated by the exhibition, with numerous paintings from the 1960s and early 1970s, including the sly self-portrait The Matador (1970).

This is the first major survey of the long and productive career of Pablo Picasso ever to be seen in the Northwest.

–Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting & Sculpture

Educational Resources
To explore this exhibition more deeply, download our bibliography.