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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to Present Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso Paris

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts announced the most important exhibition in its history, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. VMFA is the only East Coast venue for the exhibition’s seven-city international tour. The exhibition, which will be on view from February 19 through May 15, 2011, is co-organized by the Musée National Picasso, Paris and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets are available now.

Drawn from the collection of the Musée National Picasso in Paris, the largest and most significant repository of the artist’s work in the world, this exhibition represents works produced during every major artistic period of Pablo Picasso’s eight-decade career. It includes 176 works from Picasso’s personal collection – art that he kept for himself with the purpose of shaping his own legacy. Altria Group is the presenting sponsor for the exhibition.

“By bringing this major international exhibition to the Commonwealth, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is celebrating its 75th anniversary year in a significant way, by presenting a remarkable gift to all Virginians and Americans,” states Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia. “I encourage all our citizens and those outside the Commonwealth to come visit Virginia’s museum and enjoy the Picasso exhibition. Virginia is a wonderful destination for so many experiences, including world-class art.”

“This exhibition is without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the American public,” says Alex Nyerges, director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. “An exhibition this monumental is extremely rare, especially one that spans the entire career of a figure who many consider the most influential, innovative, and creative artist of the 20th century.”

In addition to showcasing some of Picasso’s most outstanding works, the exhibition tells a compelling story about the development of the artist’s career, his artistic inspirations, and his profound impact on modern art.

The unique opportunity to exhibit Picasso’s work at this time is possible because the Musée Picasso National in Paris is closed for renovations until 2012, allowing for a global tour of this full-scale survey to travel for the first and possibly only time.

“We are extremely proud to be partnering with VMFA to bring such a significant art exhibition to our Richmond headquarters community,” said Marty Barrington, executive vice president, Altria Group, and VMFA trustee. “With the Picasso exhibition, VMFA continues to realize its vision of world-class quality that will make Richmond a leading destination for fine art in the United States. Altria is pleased to support this exhibition, which will enrich our Richmond community in many ways.”

A Grand Preview Gala is planned for February 16, 2011.

About the Art
Renowned worldwide, the collection from the Musée National Picasso, Paris is unique because it represents the pieces that Picasso set aside for his own personal collection. Acting almost as a curator for his art, Picasso kept some of his most iconic pieces from each phase of his work, including the Blue Period, Rose Period, Cubism, the return to Classicism, Surrealism, and his later work.

The exhibition will showcase moments and art that defined Picasso’s early career, including a deathbed portrait of the artist’s close friend Carlos Casagemas. His friend’s suicide partially influenced Picasso’s famed Blue Period, defined by somber paintings in shades of blue and green. Celéstina (The Woman with One-Eye) (1904), a masterpiece from the Blue Period, will be featured in the exhibition.

Friends, lovers, and artists who influenced Picasso play a seminal role in the exhibition. Portraits of his mistresses, such as Reading (1932) and Portrait of Dora Maar (1937), feature his muses in various emotional states ranging from regal composure to inconsolable despair. Works ranging from studies for his early groundbreaking Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), to some of the last works of his career show his connection to, and often competition with, other notable artists from his past and present such as Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, and Diego Velázquez. The exhibition includes examples of almost every medium in which Picasso worked –oil on canvas and panel, cast bronze, carved wood, assemblages of found materials, watercolors, drawings in pastel, charcoal, pencil, and ink; various printmaking techniques, and illustrated books.

While Picasso contributed to and even inspired countless movements, he and Braques co-invented an entirely new movement: Cubism. Focused on fragmentation, shifting planes, and skewed perspectives, Cubism revolved around the deconstruction and reconstruction of figures and objects on two-dimensional surfaces or in space with new materials. The exhibition includes classical examples of Analytic Cubism, such as the famous Parisian landmark Le Sacré-Coeur (1909-1910), and several paintings of figures with musical instruments where the subjects are torqued and faceted almost beyond recognition.

About the Artist
Born in the southern Spanish city of Málaga in 1881, Pablo Picasso’s towering reputation spanned a long and productive career that began at a young age. After studying art in Barcelona—where he entered the School of Fine Arts at age thirteen—and Madrid, he first traveled to Paris in 1900, the city whose art and culture would greatly influence him and where he would first make his mark. By the time of his death in 1973 he had created an astounding 50,000 works in many different artistic mediums.

Picasso frequently shifted from one stylistic mode to another, moving through various forms of expression to match his protean vision and resist being constrained by any single style or movement. His exploration of different theories and techniques led to art that was inspired by Classicism, Surrealism, and African art, among other sources.

Involved in almost every artistic movement during his lifetime, he is recognized as one of the most powerful and creative forces of the 20th century. Never one to rest on his laurels, Picasso was constantly reinventing himself and searching for new sources of inspiration, both from the modern age and from the work of past artists and artworks. This exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand the depth and breadth of Picasso’s genius. His revolutionary artistic achievements brought him universal praise and fame, and his art continues to inspire viewers as well as artists in a range of creative fields.

About the Exhibition
• TITLE: Picasso: Masterpieces from Musée National Picasso, Paris

• ORGANIZER: Musée National Picasso, Paris

• DATES: Feb. 19, 2011 – May 15, 2011. VMFA is open seven days a week.

• CURATOR: Anne Baldassari, Chairman, Musée National Picasso, Paris

• ITINERARY: Athenaeum Art Museum, Helsinki; Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; Seattle Art Museum; VMFA, Fine Art Museums of San Francisco. One additional non-US venue is yet to be announced.


• ADMISSION: $20; Admission is free for VMFA members and children ages 6 and under. Discounts are available at $16 for seniors 65+, students with ID, groups 10+, and ages 7–17.

• CATALOG: Full color, 272 pp, 193 illustrations


Image: Portrait of Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), oil on canvas, 36¼ x 25 9/16 in. (92 x 65 cm). Musée National Picasso, Paris

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