Sunday, January 9, 2011

Picasso in Seattle

Picasso Composed of His Muses
Picasso Composed of the Women in His Life
The Picasso in Seattle exhibit (October 8, 2010 – January 17, 2011) at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is based on works from the collection of the Musée National Picasso, Paris. That museum is under rennovation and so the works hit the road. The exhibit at SAM includes over 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs from the artist’s personal collection. From Wikipedia: “Since Picasso left no will, his death duties (estate tax) to the French state were paid in the form of his works and others from his collection. These works form the core of the immense and representative collection of the Musée Picasso in Paris.” Mon dieu, estate taxes! And, since the work is from his private collection the idea is that it represents what Picasso wanted to use to shape his legacy.

First and foremost, props to SAM for putting on a good show. We thoroughly enjoyed it. It was crowded and could have used more breathing room, but lots of people seeing the show is good for the museum. The selection of works was great, the layout of them (more or less chronologically) made sense, and the supporting material (printed and audio) was appreciated. In regard to latter, the museum did an excellent job of making it all available on the web site with the actual labels on the works, a sampling of the art exhibited, the FULL audio tour, and the script to the audio tour. Wow. This is is important because much of our processing of what we see happens after the visit and having these materials available is great for the digital pack rats that we are. And, if you brought a phone capable of browsing and playing the MP3s or podcasts you could use that instead of the audioplayer they handed out (which was prefectly fine too).

Second, in regard to Picasso, I can say I have a lukewarm relationship with him (or really his legacy and image in popular culture). I like some of his works and cringe at others. Picasso speaks to me in Art like Hemingway speaks to me in Literature. Part of my uncertain thoughts about Picasso center on his relationships with women (his muses) and how his art changed with each new relationship. Reams have been written about the relationships yet the simple thought I could not get out of my mind was if I was missing something choosing a long term relationship. Was I artistically stunting myself? :-)


  1. phoey. and i'm too tired to explain why. artists create what they know. he must not know any of those women that well if he had so many relationships. how well can anyone really know someone? you're not paying attention if you think that you're not learning something new about the person you're with for a long time no matter how small.

    perhaps what really bothers you (or would bother me) is the art is probably as superficial as his relationships? not too deep but yet seems to boast an authority of really knowing the subject? that kind of oxymoron? sort of like the person who reads a book on a profession then opens up shop as an expert? i feel the same way about picasso. tho i am a hemmingway fan...

  2. I'm not dissing long term relationships (or mine for that matter specifically), but it just made me think about he fueled himself with new ones. I guess that's what he needed. I agree about your "authority" point - we see some artists celebrated and ohh'ed and ahh'ed so that they are larger than life and then we hold up the mirror and see our reflection and start to wonder.


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