If you’re from Paris, walking the many galleries of the Picasso exhibition at the San Francisco de Young might be like going home again. If you’re from the Bay Area, “Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris” will transport you to the French capital. Either way, Pablo Picasso at the de Young will make those attending the exhibition will feel that they are going to a long dinner with old friends. 150 paintings, drawings, sculptures and drawings from every phase of the artist’s richly varied career traveled from the Musée National Picasso for a foggy summer stay. Such a vast undertaking is all the more notable for its rarity – the collection from the Musée National Picasso is only on loan during the completion of extensive renovations scheduled through 2012.
Organized chronologically and by period, the exhibition provides insight into the breadth of Picasso’s oeuvre. From the early Blue Period in Barcelona through the revolution that was Cubism, it moves into Neo-Classicism and Surrealism; bronze and “found” sculpture shares space with such later, exuberantly fragmented paintings as The Matador (1970), a self-portrait.
“I haven’t got a style,” Picasso asserts, and this exhibition denies any possibility that the artist might be limited in people’s minds to a single movement. A range of styles, each mastered in its own right, fills the rooms. Notable is the complete absence of wall text explaining the history or analyzing the significance of the works. Timoth Burgand, Curator in Charge of American Art for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, explains that this lack of text allows for personal, direct interaction with the art. Instead of being bogged down with explanation, the works are free to speak for themselves.
That we learn something new about Picasso from this exhibition is no surprise. Visit the Museu Picasso in Barcelona and an astounding range of works on paper display the master artist’s talent in the graphic arts. View our collection of ceramics and understand yet another, perhaps lesser known, side of his work. Travel to the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid - the monumental Guernica and its black and white vision of the bombing of that town during the Spanish civil war awaits. If you can’t stop by the de Young for a visit before October 9, you will find the artist’s works scattered around the globe, or you might bring a piece from our collection home to you.