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: 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.