On June 10th “Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris” opened at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, California. This exhibition was brought to San Francisco from the largest collection of Picasso’s inventoried art normally housed at the Musée National Picasso in Paris, France. Currently under construction, the Musée National Picasso has offered many of Picasso’s well known works for exhibition during this period, and San Francisco’s de Young Museum was specifically selected to present this amazing collection.

This curated selection of work showcases Picasso’s diverse artistic skill containing an assemblage of paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. Emphasizing the fact that Picasso was an artist of many mediums, this collection explores the complex relationship between artist and subject matter. Delving into the personal relationship of Picasso and his many muses – mistresses, wives, war and country are all subject matter which dominate Picasso’s focus in this collection. Containing examples from his Blue, Rose, Expressionist, Cubist, Neoclassical and Surrealist periods  –  the pieces have been curated specifically for the de Young from the Musée National Picasso collection.

John E. Buchanan, Jr., director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco states, “These works present eloquent testimony to his role as a protean figure who not only created and contributed to new art forms and movements, but also forever transformed the very definition of art itself. Following on the heels of our recent exhibitions of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, this exhibition represents a natural progression forward to the masterworks of the 20th century.”

This show is unlike any other show you’re likely to see, offering an opportunity to see works that were under the ownership of Picasso himself.  These were some of his personal favorites, and highlight the breadth and depth of the artists mind and various mediums.

The exhibition highlights works from the entire span of Picasso’s artistic career, taking the viewer on an unique journey through the many years of his growth into an icon.  A highlight from his early career is “Le Mort de Casagemas (The Death of Casagemas)”, an intense portrait of a dear friend who committed suicide after being rejected by a woman he favored.  An oversized candle burns brilliantly behind Casagemas who lies still, presumable on his deathbed.  The event affected Picasso deeply, and it shows through intense color palettes and contrasting hues – while giving the viewer a taste of the work that was to come.

A show highlight, the infamous “Two Women Running on the Beach [The Race]” touches on the rotund figural work that Picasso became so well known for.  Hands held high, the two women run over sand dunes, their beach dresses revealing breasts still untouched by the sun’s rays.  This well known work is a beautifully captivating, but may stun the museum visitor at it’s size of roughly 13″ x 16″ – a great example of how a small work can feel so enormously large, and further adding to the power of Picasso’s imagery.

Later in life, the “Portrait of Dora Maar” – a mistress of Picasso’s  – is strikingly bold in comparison.  Bright yellows, cool blues, and magenta create the cubist form of this intense lover.  Dora sits in a chair, her hand lightly touching her face, looking back at Picasso painting.  It is hard not to feel the sense of passion and depth in this portrait – pictures of this work do not do it justice. This work is a personal favorite of ours from the collection.

Picasso:  Masterpieces from The Musée National Picasso Paris is a chance to see works that are unlikely to be shown in San Francisco for quite some time, and a wonderful opportunity to experience the wonder that made Picasso infamous.

by Michael Cuffe and Lyrica Glory for Warholian

Picasso:  Masterpieces from The Musée National Picasso Paris is open from June 11, 2011 – October 9th, 2011 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, California.

The exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris has the following hours:

Tuesday–Sunday:  9:30 am–5:15 pm (last ticket 4 pm)
Wednesday (through August 31) and Friday:  9:30 am–8:45 pm
Monday:  closed except for July 4 and Labor Day (September 6)

Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 11 and are available at www.deyoungmuseum.org or on site at the museum.

Be sure to check out España at Twilight which features extended hours at the de Young with reduced ticket prices for the Picasso special exhibition on Wednesday evenings from June 15-August 31 when the exhibition will be open until 8:45 pm.

For nightlife fun, the de Young offers Fiesta Friday Nights the entire museum is open until 8:45 pm (mid-January through November).  Come and enjoy free live music, film, and lectures in addition to the amazing collection of art the de Young has to offer!