“Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” exhibits 300 pieces from 25 donors, including 34 paintings, 58 drawings, a dozen sculptures and ceramics, and 200 prints, all of which come from the Metropolitan’s own repository. Nearly every Pablo Picasso that the Met has amassed was used to compile this landmark exhibition, with works displayed dating from 1900 to 1968. The Met is presenting several hundred works on paper that have never been seen by the public.
The collection displays familiar works such as Seated Harlequin (1901), At the Lapin Agile (1905), Woman in White (1923), The Dreamer (1932), and Dora Maar in an Armchair (1939). The majority of pieces come from his earlier Blue, Rose, and classical periods. Notably absent, however, are pieces from Picasso’s Cubist period. This dearth is explicable by the Met’s conservative foray into modern art: the museum acquired its first Picasso in 1947–a bequest by Gertrude Stein–with the MoMA collection already boasting 82 of his works. Nonetheless, the Met holds the second most important Picasso collection in the world, and the weightiness of his earlier work serves to dissipate notions that his talents reached a crescendo in the 1910s.
In preparation for the exhibition, infrared reflectology and x-ray technology have confirmed the authenticity and physical integrity of each piece. Such research led to discoveries of numerous, completed paintings underneath finalized canvases, a testament to the Spanish artist’s parsimoniousness and perfectionism alike. This Met has compiled subsequent information regarding Picasso’s processes, composition, styles, and themes and displays its findings through video and photography exhibited alongside the masterpieces. Picasso’s The Actor (1903) is also on display, after conservation necessitated by a tear incurred last January.
This exhibition and the conjunctive record-breaking expense of Nude, Green Leaves and Bust represent a deliberate end to the recession-tainted auction and benefaction process. Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art runs concurrently with two other Picasso exhibitions, although the collections are not related. Curator Gary Tinterow posits: “Perhaps in difficult straits one’s mind leaps to Picasso.”
Culture | Picasso at the Met [The Economist]
Current Exhibitions | Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Museum]
Life and Style | Picasso to the Rescue [The Wall Street Journal]
New York Magazine Art Review | Jerry Saltz on ‘Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art [NY Magazine]