Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
The de Young Museum presents a major exhibition by the seminal artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. The exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, is on view in the Herbst Special Exhibition Galleries and runs through October 9th, 2011.
This extraordinary exhibition of works by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) was selected from the permanent collection of the Musée National Picasso, Paris. The Musée Picasso, which opened in 1985 in the seventeenth-century Hôtel Salé in the Marais district of Paris, serves as the repository for nearly 3,600 works from the artist’s personal collection that passed to the French government following his death. Ranging from preliminary sketches to finished masterpieces, this unique collection of “Picasso’s Picassos” provides ample proof of the artist’s assertion, “I am the greatest collector of Picassos in the world.”
Self Portrait (1907). Paris, Autumn1906.
Oil on canvas. 25½ x 21¼ inches
“This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition is comprised of works from every phase of Picasso’s extraordinary career, including masterpieces from his Blue, Rose, Expressionist, Cubist, Neoclassical and Surrealist periods,” describes John E. Buchanan, Jr., director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “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.”
“The exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris lifts the curtain on the first act of a groundbreaking partnership between the Musée Picasso and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, with the intention of deepening our institutional, artistic and scientific links over the coming decade,” says Anne Baldassari, general commissioner and president of the Musée National Picasso.
Chat saisissant un oiseau. 1939
Picasso’s personal life, including his complex relationships with his wives, mistresses, and muses, also can be traced through his art. As he once commented, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” These artworks provide insight into Picasso’s working process and offer eloquent testimony to his role as a protean figure who created and contributed to numerous new art forms and movements. Although he never embraced purely abstract art, Picasso demonstrated through his radical pictorial and sculptural innovations that in art, anything is possible. By incorporating found objects from the real world into his collage and assemblage works, he altered their meaning, challenged viewers to participate more actively in the perception and interpretation of the artwork, and dissolved the traditional barriers that separated art and life. Ultimately, he transformed the very definition of art itself.
The Musée National Picasso’s collection preserves the highly personal works that Pablo Picasso kept for himself with the intention of shaping his own artistic legacy. Exhibited chronologically, covering all the phases of the modern master’s expansive eight-decade-long career and featuring the various media in which he worked, this meticulously assembled presentation includes works from the following periods.
Barcelona and Paris, 1901–1906
The Death of Casagemas. Paris, summer 1901.
Oil on wood. 10 7/8 x 13 3/4 inches.
Among Picasso’s circle in Paris was the artist and poet Carles Casagemas, a close friend from Barcelona who comitted suicide. In The Death of Casagemas (1901), Picasso employed the vivid palette and lush brushstrokes of Vincent van Gogh, another artist who killed himself, to commemorate his dead friend. For several years after this tragedy, while many French painters such as Henri Matisse were using vibrant Fauve color schemes, Picasso painted in muted tonalities.
The Blue period— La Célestine (1904) The Woman with a Cataract
The Rose period— Les deux frères (1906) The Two Brothers
His somber Blue Period subjects, inspired in part by the Spanish Renaissance master El Greco, included prostitutes, beggars, and impoverished mothers with their children. The model for La Celestine (1904), a painting based on a notorious madam from fiction, was an actual madam in Barcelona named Carlotta Valdivia.
The palette of Picasso’s subsequent Rose Period works was inspired in part by a stay in the sun-drenched Catalan town of Gósol during the summer of 1906. His subjects included circus or street performers, acrobats, and harlequins—artists who lived on the fringes of society. The young boys in Two Brothers (1906) are depicted next to a large drum used in their performances, which is topped by an empty bowl for tips.
Expressionism and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1906–1909
African-inspired proto-Cubist work —
Etude pour Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907)
Three Figures Under a Tree (1907)
In the autumn of 1906, following his return to Paris from Gósol, Picasso began the intensive work that culminated in his early masterpiece, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Working toward this eight-foot-square painting, Picasso created at least a thousand preliminary studies. The warm ochre tones of the summer turned increasingly chalky, figures were hammered flat, and hollow-eyed faces became masklike.
Three Figures under a Tree (1907-1908) incorporates faceted planes that are suggestive of carved African sculptures. The flattening of all the pictorial elements onto the two-dimensional picture plane represents a major innovation in the development of Cubism. Invigorated by his dramatic encounter with African art, as well as by the powerful 1907 retrospective of Paul Cézanne’s paintings, Picasso embarked on another body of groundbreaking work that explored sculptural form in two dimensions.
By 1909 Picasso’s work was avidly sought by several vanguard collectors, and he was able to leave his bohemian life behind. During the next five years, Picasso and the French artist Georges Braque developed Cubism. Together, they revolutionized how three-dimensions could be represented two-dimensionally, reducing objects to their individual components, and depicting multiple perspectives simultaneously, thus introducing to the canvas the element of time.
Although Man with a Guitar (1911) must have seemed incomprehensible to viewers one hundred years ago, modern museumgoers can perceive a head clenching a pipe in its mouth at the top, a guitar with its round sound hole in the center, and curved table legs at the bottom. Picasso and Braque also invented modern collage, incorporating newspaper fragments into their works, and assemblage, utilizing found objects to create three-dimensional constructions. This glorious period of experimentation between the two artists, which revolutionized the depiction of space and time in art, came to an end with the outbreak of World War I (1914–1918).
Analytic Cubism— Man with a Guitar. Paris, autumn 1911. Oil on canvas.
Synthetic Cubism— Violin (1915)
In the wake of World War I, Picasso joined with other artists who set aside their avant-garde styles in favor of a renewed interest in classical traditions and naturalistic representation. Some followers, who had embraced Cubism as the only valid rendering of form, considered this a conservative retreat, but Picasso consistently refused to be tied to any single art movement.
This transition was reinforced in 1917, when the Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev invited Picasso to travel to Italy to design the sets and costumes for a new ballet, Parade. While in Italy, Picasso viewed classical art in Rome, Naples, and Pompeii, and he fell in love with Olga Khoklova, a dancer with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. They married in 1918, moved into a respectable bourgeois apartment, and had a son, Paulo (b. 1921).
Portrait d’Olga dans un fauteuil
Montrouge, spring 1918.
Oil on canvas. 51¼ x 35 inches
Picasso’s Portrait of Olga in an Armchair (1918), painted in the first year of their marriage, emulates the precision of the nineteenth-century French Neoclassical artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. While Picasso enjoyed his growing financial success, his wife’s bourgeois aspirations inevitably conflicted with the artist’s bohemian roots.
The protagonists of the proto-Surrealist Two Women Running on the Beach (1922) may represent the mythological maenads, the female followers of the Greek god Dionysius who embodied unchecked human passions. This theme may have held particular intrigue for Picasso given his circumstances at the time this picture was created.
Deux femmes courant sur la plage
Dinard, summer 1922. Gouache on plywood.
The sense of comfortable domesticity that emanated from Picasso’s early images of family life all but disappeared in the late 1920s. Tensions at home, arising from Picasso’s infidelities and complicated by Olga Khoklova’s health problems, were manifested in disturbing new imagery. Seeking pictorial expressions of his inner anxiety, Picasso was inspired by the Surrealist movement, led by the writer André Breton. Influenced in part by the theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the Surrealists sought to liberate the human unconscious and the imagination from cultural constraints.
The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939
In 1935 the Surrealist poet Paul Éluard introduced Picasso to Dora Maar, a tall, striking woman who was a photographer, poet, and painter in her own right. Unlike the docile Marie-Thérèse Walter (Picasso’s mistress and mother of his second child) who “did whatever I wanted her to,” Dora Maar challenged Picasso intellectually and emotionally, which he found invigorating.
Portrait of Dora Maar. Paris, 1937. Oil on canvas.
The war years— The Weeping Woman (1937)
In contrast to Walter, whom Picasso rendered with pastel tones and sensual curves, Maar was portrayed with acidic colors and angular forms, as in Portrait of Dora Maar (1937). Maar’s tear-streaked face also served as a recurring universal symbol for tragedy and grief in anguished images responding to the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and World War II (1939–1945), as in The Weeping Woman (1937).
Late Work, 1961–1973
The Kiss (1969). Oil on canvas.
In his eighties Picasso was unceasingly productive, following his own advice to “only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Following a dreaded ulcer operation in 1965, the artist told a friend that while age had forced him to give up sex and smoking, “the desire remains.” Because he equated sexuality with creativity, carnal appetites played a starring role in late works such as The Kiss (1969). In this painting, as Picasso is kissed by his wife, Jacqueline, he looks off into the distance as if anxious to return to his work. “I haven’t got a style,” Picasso claimed, but over the course of his long and prolific career, he created revolutionary works that laid the foundations of modern art.
Click here to reserve your tickets: PICASSO
See related material:
THIS GUN FOR HIRE, 1942 – Looking at “Now you see it, now you don’t” sung by Veronica Lake
Seán Martinfield YouTube with Janet Roitz – ‘Marked Woman’ (1937) and the song that gave it pizzazz – ‘My Silver Dollar Man’
“Would You Like A Souvenir?” – Sean Martinfield and Janet Roitz explore a song from Film Noir classic NORA PRENTISS (1947)
OLYMPIA DUKAKIS – Will Host “Tales of the City” Benefit on June 24th
“THE RAMBLER” – A World Premiere from Joe Goode Performance Group
SANDRA BERNHARD – “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?”
JOHNNY MATHIS and “CASABLANCA” – In the Summer Line-up with SF Symphony
SONDHEIM’S “ASSASSINS” – Ray of Light Theatre is right-on target
“TALES OF THE CITY” – Totally Sensational, Totally San Francisco
“THE STOPS” – At NCTC – Come On and Get A Faith Lift
BRENDEN GUY — British Clarinetist In Concert, June 2nd
BLUE MAN GROUP — Best show in town!
FRAMELINE35: SF International LGBT Film Festival Opens June 16th
SILENT FILM FESTIVAL – Opens July 14th with re-discovered film by John Ford
SFMOMA — The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde
THE 2011 FRESH MEAT TOUR — 4 Festive Days of Everything Transgender and Queer
“ASSASSINS” – Ray of Light Theatre presents Stephen Sondheim’s controversial musical, June 2–25
ArtPadSF — Opens Today at the Phoenix Hotel
MISSA SOLEMNIS – Christine Brewer to appear with the SF Symphony, June 23–26
VICE PALACE – All Singing! All Dancing! All Hedonism!!!
SEEING GERTRUDE STEIN: FIVE STORIES
SF GIRLS CHORUS — At the Conservatory of Music, June 9th and 11th
THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS – Coming to A.C.T.
BLUE MAN GROUP – Opens May 24th at the Golden Gate Theatre
THE MAGNA CARTA — Now on view at the Legion of Honor
THE LITTLE MERMAID – Fabulous Revival by SF Ballet, ends Sunday, 5/8
SF SYMPHONY CHORUS – In Concert at Davies Hall, 5/22
PICASSO: At the de Young Museum, Tickets on sale 5/11
THESE AMAZING SHADOWS – Opens Friday at the Sundance Kabuki Theater
SF DECORATOR SHOWCASE 2011 – 2950 Vallejo Street gets the make-over
BETH WILMURT – A stunning “Alma” in The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, at the Aurora Theatre
TENOR JAY HUNTER MORRIS – Replaces Ian Storey as “Siegfried” at SF Opera
MIKE WARD – Benefit for ailing director at Most Holy Redeermer, 4/30
THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER – Les yawns, les sighs
CD: ZUILL BAILEY, Cellist – Brahms Works for Cello and Piano
TIIT HELIMETS – An Interview with “Prince Edvard” of SF Ballet’s THE LITTLE MERMAID
NO EXIT: A Helluva Great Time at the American Conservatory Theatre
THE FLOW SHOW 3 – Coming to Dance Mission Theater, 4/29—5/1
THIS WEEKEND: New Conservatory Theatre Center presents – “Gender Mystic” and “The Busy World Is Hushed”
THE WHIFFENPOOFS – Coming To The City, May 27th
AUDITIONS: San Francisco Opera seeks physically fit male supernumeraries for Wagner’s Die Walküre and Götterdämmerung
KIRK DOUGLAS – On stage at the Castro Theatre, July 24th
54th SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – Presents Midnight Award to Clifton Collins Jr.
NO EXIT – U.S. Premiere at A.C.T. through May 1st
WAGNER’S RING – Single tickets now on sale for SF Opera summer productions
SF BALLET’S PROGRAM 7 – Petrouchka, Underskin, and Number Nine
COMING TO SAN FRANCISCO — THE MAGNA CARTA
LORENA FEIJÓO – SF Ballet Star To Appear on “Dancing with the Stars”, 4/12
SF BALLET – Program 6, A Power-Packed Triple Feature
CD: DAVID RUSSELL — Isaac Albéniz: Spanish Music on Guitar
PROGRAM 6 at SF Ballet – Opens Thursday, April 7th
NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER – Announces 2011-12 Pride Season
NEW PUBLICATIONS: PUBLIC TRUST BETRAYED. An Interview with author and real estate appraiser, James E. Manning
MARVELOUS MENAGERIE: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel – At the Legion of Honor
CHARLOTTE SALOMON: Life? or Theatre? – Opens today at the Contemporary Jewish Museum
THE ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE – At the Aurora Theatre, 4/1—5/8
PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA & CHORALE – Announces 2011-2012 Season
AUDITIONS – SF OPERA Needs In-Shape Men and 40 Kids For WAGNER’S RING
VICE PALACE: The Last Cockettes Musical – Opens April 29th
ARMISTEAD MAUPIN – At the Julia Morgan Theatre, Thursday, 4/14
JOAN and SANFORD I. WEILL – Contribute $12 Million Dollars to Sonoma State University for Green Music Center
HUGH JACKMAN – Exclusive Engagement at the Curran Theatre, May 3–15
BALENCIAGA AND SPAIN – At the de Young, 3/26–7/4
COPPÉLIA – A Gorgeous New Production at San Francisco Ballet
DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES – At Fort Mason, 3/31—4/3
NEW ON CD – Icicle Creek Piano Trio: Haydn, Turina, Shostakovich
NATALIE DESSAY – Is “Lucia di Lammermoor” in HD at Sundance Kabuki Cinema
NEW CENTURY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA – Presents “Mastery of Schubert”, Featuring Soprano Melody Moore, 3/24–27
SF CONCERT CHORALE – Presents Herbert Howells’ Requiem and Arthur Honegger’s King David
“COPPÉLIA” – A SF Ballet Premiere, Cast Announced for Opening Night, 3/19
“THE HOMECOMING” – A Home Run at A.C.T.
BACH B-MINOR MASS – This week at San Francisco Symphony
KILLER QUEEN – The Story of “Paco the Pink Pounder”
ARE WE THERE YET? — At the Contemporary Jewish Museum, March 31st – July 31st
FLORAL DESIGNER NATASHA LISITSA – Creating the Fantastical in the Wilsey Court for “Bouquets To Art 2011″
EDITOR’S CHOICE — HÉLÈNE RENAUT, Vinyl Release Celebration at Cafe du Nord, 3/9
ZHENG CAO – A Conversation with A Miracle Artist
MELODY MOORE – Soprano shines in SF Ballet’s “Nanna’s Lied”
MARNIE BRECKENRIDGE – An Interview with “La Princesse” of Philip Glass’ Orphée
ODC THEATER – Presents Sarah Michelson and Richard Maxwell’s “Devotion”
AVENUE Q – A Totally Fabulous Place To Be
CONSTANTINE MAROULIS – Comes to the Curran Theatre in “Rock of Ages”
EDITORIAL – A confession about ballerina Lorena Feijóo
PULP FASHION: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave at the Legion of Honor
YURI POSSOKHOV’S RAkU — Stunning World Premiere At San Francisco Ballet
CAMERON CARPENTER – Organist signs with CAMI Music and Konzertdirektion Schmid
THE PALACE OF FINE ARTS – Opening Celebration, January 14th
GISELLE – Opens SF Ballet’s 78th Season, 1/29/11
A Conversation with Elza van den Heever
THE BLACK SWAN – Don’t Save The Drippings
HEART OF A SOLDIER – SF Opera Commissions New Work
SF SYMPHONY – Announces 2011/12 Centennial Celebration
SHREK THE MUSICAL – Ogres and Freaks and Spells, “Oh, my!”
CD: MAHLER’S “Songs With Orchestra” – SF Symphony Completes Mahler Recording Project
KARITA MATTILA – “Viva To The Diva!”
CLUB FOOT ORCHESTRA – A Conversation with Richard Marriot
WEST SIDE STORY – Most of it, anyway
Dr. ELISA STEPHENS – My Visit with the President
PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA – 30th Anniversary Gala, 9/24
TENOR RAMÓN VARGAS – A Worthy “Werther” At San Francisco Opera
AÏDA – Spectacular Opening Night At San Francisco Opera
OPENING NIGHT AT SF SYMPHONY – A Mixed Bag
CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca
A Look At “Giselle” with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo
DOLORA ZAJICK – Internationally Acclaimed Mezzo To Receive Merola Distinguished Alumni Award
DEBORAH VOIGT – A Captivating “Fanciulla del West”
JEANETTE MacDONALD – Hollywood Diva Remembered at the War Memorial Opera House
CD/DVD Release: CAMERON LIVE! – Organist Cameron Carpenter
THE RUFFATTI ORGAN & CAMERON CARPENTER at DAVIES HALL
PEARLS OVER SHANGHAI – An Interview with Russell Blackwood
PIANIST MISHA DICHTER – A Conversation
ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation
DAVID PERRY – On the “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media”
CAMINOS FLAMENCOS – A Conversation with Yaelisa
A CONVERSATION WITH LUCIE ARNAZ
JANE MONHEIT – At The Empire Ballroom
CAMERON CARPENTER – Up Close and Very Personal
RUBÉN MARTIN CINTAS – Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet
CHRISTINE ANDREAS – A Conversation with Beautiful Broadway and Cabaret Star
CD Review – REVOLUTIONARY, Cameron Carpenter, Organist
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: email@example.com.
THE MISSION OF FRIENDS OF THE ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES