Major Picasso Exhibition at the Art Museum of Ontario in 2012

The Acrobat (1930)
The Acrobat (1930)

The legendary Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is not only one of the most innovative and charismatic figures of the 20th century, but he was also the most avid collector, especially of his own works. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will host Picasso: Masterpieces from the National Picasso Musée, Paris from April 28 through August 26, 2012. The musée is housed in the Hotel Salè, a large baroque edifice located in the historic Marais district of Paris. Currently undergoing a $28 million  renovation, the musée was established in 1985 (about 12 years after his death) to showcase his amazing personal collection, which  includes drawings, manuscripts, engravings, sculptures, and paintings. It consists of more than 3,000 works of art that span his illustrious 75-year career. Picasso’s personal art collection contains works by other renowned artists, including Cézanne, Degas, Rousseau, Seurat, de Chirico, and Matisse. The collection also includes examples of his penchant for Iberian brass work and primitive art.

Picasso Retrospective Attracts Worldwide Attention
Portrait of Dora Maar (1937)
Portrait of Dora Maar (1937)

Picasso: Masterpieces from the National Picasso Musée, Paris at AGO is part of a world tour made possible by the Hotel Salé renovation. For Anne Baldassari, Director of the Picasso Musée, the traveling exhibition is part of a clever marketing strategy geared to fund the institution’s massive renovation, finance conservation initiatives, and increase future acquisitions. Since it’s debute in 2008, this once-in-a-lifetime event has been hosted by venues in Madrid, Helsinki, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Richmond, Seattle, San Francisco, Sydney and other cities. According to Baldassari, the musée has reaped 1 million to 3.5 million euros per year for the traveling retrospective. Madrid’s Reina Sofia museum hosted the exhibition alongside their impressive Picasso collection, which includes “Guernica”(1937); that haunting epitaph to the Spanish Civil War. The stop in Abu Dhabi at the Emirates Palace marked the first major Picasso exhibition in the Middle East. Each venue witnessed record-shattering attendance levels. Since AGO is the only Canadian destination on the tour, expectations are naturally high. In Richmond, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (Feb 19 to May 15, 2011) tallied more than 400,000 visitors. This is a record for one single show at the museum. According to experts, the economic impact on the state of Virginia was about $28 million, generated by activities associated with this show. At Seattle Art Museum (Oct. 8, 2010 to Jan. 17, 2011) this intriguing retrospective also attracted more than 400,000 visitors and boosted the membership to a new high.

AGO Exhibition Chronicles Picasso’s Lifetime Creative Output
Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris at AGO will features over 150 works from various stylistic periods including expressionism, cubism, neoclassicism, and surrealism. The exhibition is arranged in a chronological order to parallel the Spaniard’s tumultuous and eventful life.  The melancholy “Celestina” (1904) is representative of Picasso’s equally somber Blue period, which coincide with his discovery of Paris and the suicide death of close friend Carlos Casagemas. His Rose period, represented by paintings like “Two Brothers” (1906), reflects a happier time with the use of a brighter color palette and a growing interest in harlequins, cirrus performers, and clowns. With “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”(1907), the artist translated an affinity for African sculpture into a unique stylistic vocabulary of expressive form. “Man with a Guitar” (1911) fleshes out Picasso’s Cubist manifesto with an uncanny visual precision.  The women in Picasso’s life are prominent in his artistic vision and the background gives this exhibition a distinct domestic edge. Included is “Portrait of Olga,” (1917) a neoclassical depiction of his first wife, Olga Khokhlova; “Portrait of Dora Maar ” (1937), “Jacqueline with Folded Hands” (1954) and the various visual incarnations of Marie-Thérèse Walter maintain a rich emotional tension despite the associations to Picasso’s infidelity. Other highlights featured in this memorable exhibition include: “Head of a Bull” (1942), “Goat” (1950), “Bathers” (1956), and his late self-portrait, “The Matador” (1970).  

A 296-page catalogue of the exhibition, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, is available. Edited by Anne Baldassari, it includes detailed 194 illustrations.
For more information go to AGO website at:

4 comments on “Major Picasso Exhibition at the Art Museum of Ontario in 2012

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