Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a landmark exhibition of 150 works by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), will present an unprecedented opportunity to view the Met’s extensive collection of the artist’s work. Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 27, 2010, this first exhibition to focus exclusively on works by Picasso in the collection will reveal the Museum’s complete holdings of the artist’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics—never before seen in their entirety—as well as a significant selection of his prints.
The exhibition encompasses the key subjects that variously sustained the artist’s interest: the pensive harlequins of his Blue and Rose periods, the faceted figures and tabletop still lifes of his Cubist years, the monumental heads and classicizing bathers of the 1920s, the raging bulls and dreaming nudes of the 1930s, and the rakish musketeers of his final years. Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art will feature 34 paintings, 58 drawings, a dozen sculptures and ceramics, and a representative selection of prints (some 50 from a total of 400), all acquired by the Museum over the past 60 years. Importantly, the exhibition includes many works on paper by Picasso that have rarely, if ever, been exhibited before at the Metropolitan. Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art continues the Museum’s tradition of organizing major exhibitions that bring to light its impressive collection of works by a singular artist or period of particular importance, such as Goya in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1995); Toulouse-Lautrec in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1996); John Singer Sargent Beyond the Portrait Studio: Paintings, Drawings, and Watercolors from the Collection (2000); Gauguin in New York Collections: The Lure of the Exotic (2002); and The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007–8).
The Metropolitan’s collection reflects the full breadth of Picasso’s multi-sided genius as it asserted itself over the course of his long and influential career. The works range in date from a dashing self-portrait of 1900 (Self-Portrait “Yo”) by the 19-year-old Spaniard to the fanciful Standing Nude and Seated Musketeer (1968), created when the artist was 87.
Picasso’s iconic portrait of Gertrude Stein from 1906—a bequest of the writer herself in 1946—was the first painting by Picasso to be acquired by the Metropolitan. Over the next six decades, the holdings were shaped by a succession of purchases and gifts from more than 25 donors, among them other pioneering champions of modernism, such as Alfred Stieglitz and Scofield Thayer, and such illustrious collectors as Florene M. Schoenborn, Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, and Jacques and Natasha Gelman.
The collection is notable for its remarkable constellation of early figure paintings, which also include: Seated Harlequin (1901), from the beginning of his Blue period; At the Lapin Agile(1905), in which the artist depicts himself dressed as a melancholy harlequin; and a self-portrait from 1906 that reflects Picasso’s encounters with African and Iberian sculpture. Among the many other celebrated paintings in the exhibition are Woman in White (1923), The Dreamer (1932), and Dora Maar in an Armchair (1939).
The Metropolitan’s collection of Picasso’s works also stands apart for its exceptional cache of drawings, which remain relatively little known, despite their importance and number. Examples of the numerous compelling drawings in the exhibition are: Standing Female Nude (1910), one of the key works shown in Picasso’s first U.S. exhibition, at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery in 1911; and Head of a Woman (1922), a powerful chalk drawing from his Neoclassical period, which lasted from 1918 to 1925.
In preparation for this exhibition, all of Picasso’s works in the collection have been studied closely, and many were conserved to reveal the artist’s intentions or to restore their physical integrity. The exhibition will disclose a number of exciting discoveries made during the conservation process.
Complementing the presentation of the artist’s works will be photographs of Picasso by Man Ray, Brassaï, and others, also drawn from the Museum’s collection.
The exhibition is organized by Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Chairman, with Susan Alyson Stein, Curator, both of the Metropolitan’s Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art.
Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be accompanied by the first comprehensive catalogue of the Metropolitan’s collection of works by Picasso. This illuminating publication has been prepared by members of the Museum’s curatorial and conservation staff under the direction of Gary Tinterow, who edited the catalogue and wrote the introduction. A Picasso scholar, Mr. Tinterow is known for his highly acclaimed exhibitions and publications Master Drawings by Picasso, The Essential Cubism, Juan Gris: A Retrospective, and Picasso Classico.
The catalogue provides insightful entries for nearly 100 works by Picasso, furnishing the latest technical and documentary findings, along with full records of the provenance, exhibition history, and references. The 324-page catalogue also features 600 illustrations; an overview of the history of the collection; and an illustrated checklist of the entire collection of prints by Picasso, which number more than 400. The catalogue is published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press and will be available in the Museum’s bookshops ($60 hardcover, $40 paperback).
Educational programs will include a Sunday at the Met lecture and film program, gallery talks, and a teacher workshop. A three-part lecture series with Gary Tinterow on April 22, April 29, and May 6 will focus on multiple facets of Picasso’s life and legacy (tickets required).
An audio tour, part of the Metropolitan’s Audio Guide program, will be available for rental ($7, $6 for members, and $5 for children under 12).
The Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg.
The exhibition will be featured on the Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org