Monday, April 26, 2010

Jill Krementz covers Picasso in The Met

Entrance to the Exhibition.
Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art
April 27-August 1, 2010
Special Exhibition Galleries, 2nd Floor

This landmark exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) in the Museum's collection. It features some 250 works, including the Museum's complete holdings of paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, and an extensive selection of prints by this great artist.

It is the first time that the public will be able to see this magnificent collection in its entirety.

I would urge you to treat yourself to the Audio Guide, which contains informative, and amusing, commentary by the exhibition curator, Gary Tinterow, as well as conservator Magdelena Dabrowski and staff curators Sabine Rewald, Lisa Messinger, Isabelle Duvernois, Samantha Rippner, and Marla Prather. Also featured: The Met's Director, Thomas Campbell; Picasso's granddaughter, Diana Widmaier Picasso; and Picasso's friend and biographer John Richardson.

Of particular interest to me is the video on view: Picasso at Work: Beneath the Surface. It reveals exactly what the title suggests.
Picasso never doubted that he was a great master. He was not a modest man. I mean he said to me once, 'There's no such thing as a bad Picasso. Some are less good than others'.
— Biographer John Richardson
John Richardson, a British historian and a close friend of Pablo Picasso, has written the definitive three-volume biography of the artist. Published by Knopf.
There are four huge wall photos of Pablo Picasso as you enter the exhibition.
Picasso in boxing shorts in his rue Schoelcher studio, Paris, ca. 1915-16. Photograph by Pablo Picasso. Musée National Picasso, Paris, Gift of Sir Roland Penrose.
Picasso wearing a porter's smock in his rue Schoelcher studio, Paris, ca. 1915-16. Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece is visible on the floor at right. Photograph by Pablo Picasso. Private collection.
Picasso wearing a suit in his rue Schoelcher studio, Paris, ca. 1915-16. Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece is visible on the floor at right. Photograph by Pablo Picasso. Private collection.
Picasso wearing a metal worker's jacket in his rue Schoelcher studio, Paris, ca. 1915-16. Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece is visible on the floor at left. Photograph by Pablo Picasso. Musée National Picasso, Paris, Gift of Sir Roland Penrose.
Thomas B. Campbell, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, welcoming journalists, and the many TV cameras on hand, to the Press Preview of the Picasso Exhibition.

It's my great pleasure to welcome you to this special exhibition. It displays our holdings of the work of this extraordinary 20th-century master, together for the first time.
Gary Tinterow, curator of the Picasso Exhibition. Mr. Tinterow is the Engelhard Curator in Charge of the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art.

Tinterow will be giving a three-part lecture series on Picasso in the museum's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium on three consecutive Thursday mornings at 11AM: April 22 (The Early Years: Barcelona to Paris), April 29th (Cubism and Classicism), and May 6th (The Late Years). $60 for all three;
$23 single ticket.
Picasso met Dora Maar in a literary café, Les Deux Magots. And Dora Maar, who was known for strange acts, pulled out a little pocket knife, splayed her hands on the table, and darted the pocketknife between her fingers, sometimes hitting her finger , and a drop of blood would fall. Picasso was riveted by the spectacle and asked his friend Paul Éluard to introduce them. And Dora Maar answered Picasso in Spanish, which made her even more interesting.

— Sabine Rewald, who met Dora Maar during a summer in Ménerbes
Curator Sabine Rewald, in front of Dora Maar in an Armchair, Royan, October 26, 1939.
Samantha Rippner, associate curator of modern and contemporary American and European prints.

Two large galleries of the exhibition are dedicated to the Spanish master's prints.

The Metropolitan Museum's collection of graphic work by Picasso reflects the artist's long and distinguished engagement with printmaking. Numbering close to four hundred prints in various techniques, the Museum's holding represents only a fraction of his total output, for, as with most everything he pursued, Picasso was voracious about printmaking. Over the course of his career, he made more than 2,000 prints, the majority of which he worked in multiple states.
— Samantha Rippner
Marla Prather, Senior Consultant for modern and contemporary art; Woman and Musketeer; Mougins (Notre-Dame-de-Vie), February 22-March 1, 1967.
The swashbuckling, 17-century musketeer, a subject Picasso had sketched in his youth as early as 1892-93, was one of the most prevalent characters in his art for the last six years of his life. In the mature work, the mustachioed, sword-toting musketeer in full regalia — ruff collar, breeches, and plumed hat — first appeared in a drawing for 'Verve' (January 21, 1954), but he gained a steady presence in 1967. Picasso underwent a serious ulcer operation on November 16, 1965 in Paris (his last trip to the city), and during his long recovery he painted very little and re-read, among other classics, Alexandre Dumas's 'The Three Musketeers,' a book that John Richardson claims the artist knew by heart.

— Marla Prather
TV reporter from Mexico interviewing Gary Tinterow.

Without question, the brother and sister collector team of Gertrude and Leo Stein were the most important collectors of Picasso's work before the First World War. Not only did they make outright purchases beginning in 1905. But they encouraged many of their friends to do so.
Writer Edward Maloney. Lance Esplund, Senior Art Critic for City Arts. Mr. Esplund also writes for The Wall
Street Journal.
Frederick M. Winship, Arts and Theater Critic at Large for United Press International. Ariella Budick, art critic for the Financial Times. On the wall: Head of a Woman; Dinard, Summer 1922; Chalk on wove paper.
Jardin de Paris (Design for a Poster)
Paris, Summer (late July?) 1901

Ink and watercolor on wove paper
Signed in ink, lower right: —Picasso—;
inscribed at top: —JARDIN/PARIS—
Mother and Child on a Bench
Paris, second half of 1901
Woman in Profile
Madrid, Spring 1901
Kneeling Nude
Paris, late 1907-Spring 1908
Standing Nude
Paris, late 1907-early 1908
Paris, Spring 1909—Horta de Ebro, Summer 1909
Head of a Woman
Paris, Autumn 1909 (Vollard edition, cast
date unknown)
This sculpture, 'Head of a Woman,' is a revolutionary work and considered to be the first Cubist sculpture. The idea is to perceive the subject in various angles, in various interplays with the light. It's a study of forms. Certain sections, when they fall into deep shadows, give the effect of having been gouged out in order to show the interior as well as the exterior of this sculpture. At the time it was also called 'the broken head' just because it's broken on every side. Picasso learned sculptures by himself. And before he made this 'Head of a Woman' (based on his lover, Fernande Olivier), he's been sculpting in wood. He's been sculpting in clay in a very free way and experimenting. The subject is Fernande, but it could well be a landscape or a still life.
— Diana Widmaier-Picasso
Paris, Autumn 1906
Head of a Woman
Fontainbleau, September 1921
Woman in White
Paris, Autumn, 1923
oil, water-based paint, and crayon on canvas
Picasso painted this work, one of his best-known neoclassical pictures, upon his return to Paris after a summer sojourn in Cap d'Antibes. There, he and his wife, Olga, socialized with the charismatic American expatriates Gerald and Sara Murphy.

Because Sara Murphy had beautifully regular features, some writers believe that this canvas is a portrait of her. However, photgraphs that Picasso took of Olga posing in front of related classical heads demonstrates that at least she thought they were depictions of her.
Mandolin, Fruit Bowl, and Plaster Arm
Juan-Les-Pins, Summer 1925
The Dreamer
Boisgeloup, July 1932
Sheep Skull with Grapes
Royan, October 1 1939
Dora Maar with a Necklace, 1937
Printed 1961
Dora Maar in a Wicker Chair
Paris, April 29, 1938

Picasso must have been very inspired by the design of the wicker to depict this web-like design. Dora Maar sits like a spider on a throne. And her hands are sliced and huge. And she was very fond of hats .... She was a strong, beautiful, dark-haired woman ... a photographer and an artist ... a high-strung, highly intelligent, neurotic, and she's never depicted naked-always dressed.

— Sabine Rewald, who met Dora Maar during a summer in Ménerbes
Francoise, Claude, Paloma: Reading and Playing I
1953 (printed 1961)

Picasso and the young artist Francoise Gilot began a ten-year relationship in 1943; they had two children together, Claude and Paloma. Happy and absorbed in his new family, Picasso made many images of them, including this tender etching of Francoise with their children at play.
Figures with a Man in an Armchair Daydreaming about Love
from 347 Suite, 1968
Cannes, May 16, 1957
Wax crayon on wove paper
The Bride As She Is, 1962
Collotype with hand-colored additions in wax crayon
Venus and Cupid, after Lucas Cranach, 1948 Man with a Ruff, 1963
Bacchanal with Seated Woman Holding a Baby, 1959 Head of a Woman, 1960
Oil on Canvas
Display of a print and linoleum cuts Head of a Faun
Linoleum cut
Landscape with Bathers, 1962
Linoleum cut
Jacqueline Leaning on Her Elbows, 1959
Linoleum cut
Printed by Hidalgo Anéra
Jacqueline with a Headband III, 1964
Terracotta with black slip
Bacchanal with a Black Bull, 1959
Linoleum cut
Woman and Musketeer
Oil on canvas
Standing Nude and Seated Musketeer
Oil on Canvas
Portrait of Picasso by Man Ray
Gelatin silver print
Portrait of Picasso by Arnold Newman
Gelatin silver print
Picasso next to Massacre in Korea (1951) in His Studio at La California, Cannes
Portrait by Lucien Clergue
Gelatin silver print
Photograph of Picasso by David Douglas Duncan.

If you were with Picasso, there were, say, six, seven, eight of you around a table, and you'd watch Picasso in action-he would get the energy of every single person. He would work the table. And he had different strokes for different blokes. And with a pretty girl, he'd say just the right thing. And she'd sort of offer herself up in a way. And he'd get her. Children, he'd get. Animals, he'd get. And then sometimes, he'd go strutting off into his studio at 10:00 in the night, when you finished dinner, and spend most of the night working like crazy on other people's energy — I mean, it was vampiric in a way. I mean this theft of everybody's energy.
— Biographer John Richardson
Pipe Rack and Still Life on a Table
Céret, late Summer 1911-Autumn 1911
Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece
Paris, Autumn-Winter 1915
Man with a Hat and a Violin
Paris, December 1912
Detail of Man with a Hat and a Violin.
Bottle and Wine Glass on a Table
Paris, December 1912
Detail of Bottle and Wine Glass on a Table.
Illustrated letter to Jean Cocteau
Paris, November 16-19, 1916
Left: Portrait of Gertrude Stein. Paris, 1905-1906; oil on canvas

Right: La Coiffure. Paris, 1906; oil on canvas

Recent technical examinations employing Autoradiography, X-radiography and Infrared reflectography of both these paintings show that Picasso used each of these canvases several times.

Within a few minutes of meeting Gertrude Stein he asked if he could paint her portrait. Stein herself was trying to find a style for her to work in as an American poet working in Paris. And she felt that she was making a kind of Cubist poetry that was just as important in literature as to what Picasso was doing in the visual arts. And as a result, she was eager to buy experimental works at a time when few others were interested in that material. Very quickly, Gertrude owned the relationship with Picasso. And it was a friendship that she maintained until she died in 1946.
— Gary Tinterow
The Actor
Paris, December 1904-January 1905
Oil on canvas

Simple, yet haunting, The Actor is one of the major works with which Picasso announced a definitive departure from his Blue Period obsession with the wretched. This new subject matter coincided with the arrival of Picasso's new lover, the model and sometime artist, Fernande Olivier (1881-1996).
Saltimbanque in Profile
Paris, late 1905
Essence on paper board

This work may be one of Picasso's last pictures depicting the itinerant acrobats called saltimbanques. These itinerant circus acrobats provided Picasso with a subject that fed his continued interest in those who were outcasts, poor, and rootless, even as their lithe, well-honed figures were a scaffold for his newfound interest in classicism.
Erotic Scene (known as "La Douleur")
Paris, Autumn 1902, or Barcelona, 1903

Picasso always saw the creative act in terms if the procreative act. And he would use one to fortify the other, And what's so amazing about those late works is this enormous sexuality, that they have on the part of a man who probably could no longer perform sexually-except on canvas.

He said 'You know, when we get to a certain age, we can't really do it anymore. But,' he said, 'it doesn't mean the urge isn't there.

— Biographer John Richardson
Be sure to look at the video which shows the underpaintings on many of Picasso's works. This is one of the most interesting aspects of this exhibition.
'Seated Harlequin' was made in the summer of 1901, at the moment when Picasso was turning 20.

It is truly extraordinary to think that such a young painter could make a picture that's so compelling, assured, masterful in its presentation. In part, it's because Picasso was a brilliant borrower of images, strategies, details for his pictures.

He said many times ... 'good artists copy, great artists steal.' In 'The Seated Harlequin,' he borrowed the flowery wallpaper from the background of Van Gogh's 'La Berceuse,' now at the Metropolitan Museum.
— Gary Tinterow
Our understanding of Picasso's working methods has been greatly expanded through extensive examinations involving new technology. As you can see, in all the examples above, Pablo Picasso's finished canvasses evolved through many stages. I loved this part of the exhibition.

In the summer of 1946, Gertrude Stein wrote her will. In it, she left her portrait by Picasso, which many have argued was her most precious possession, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I believe that she wanted her painting to go to the most important museum in her native county. And at the time that could have only been the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
— Gary Tinterow
The Gift Shop as you exit the Exhibition.
Sheila Metcalf, who works in the gift shop at The Met.
Scarf. One of the two posters for sale printed in conjunction with the exhibition.
The exhibition catalogue, PICASSO in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Paperbound, $35.00; Clothbound, $60.00.
There was a private preview and reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. The evening was hosted by Thomas P. Campbell and Iris Cantor.
Guests entering The Met later that evening.
Iris Cantor, standing next to Seated Harlequin, Paris, Autumn 1901.

When I greeted Mrs. Cantor I said:

"Congratulations, I guess you funded most of this exhibition."

She replied:

"Are you kidding? I paid for the
whole thing!"
Diana Widmaier-Picasso and Gary Tinterow. Ms. Widmaier-Picasso, the granddaughter of the artist, is currently working on a catalgue raisonné of Picasso's sculpture. Johnnie Moore and Ashton Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins was legal counsel to the Met for many years.
Edith and Harold Holzer. Nicole Seidel with her father, Andy Seidel.
Joel Ehrenkranz, a trustee of MoMA. Maureen and Richard Chilton. Ms. Chilton is Chairman of New York Botanical Gardens. Mr. Chilton is a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum.
Richard Chilton viewing etchings. David D'Arcy, who writes for Art & Auction and for Art Newspaper.
Susan Allyson Stein, co-author of the exhibition catalogue, PICASSO in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This landmark publication presents for the first time a comprehensive catalogue of the works by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) in the Metropolitan Museum. The collection reflects the full breadth of the artist’s multi-sided genius as it asserted itself over the course of his long and influential career.

An overview of the collection’s history; entries on nearly one hundred works that incorporate the latest technical and documentary findings and furnish a full record of the provenance, exhibition history, and references for each object; and an essay and illustrated checklist of the prints are also included in this illuminating and handsomely illustrated volume.
Tony Bennett. Donna Williams, who works in Met's External Affairs Department, with Bill Freeman. Mr. Freeman describes himself as "just an old investment banker."
Brendan O'Connell (an artist/painter), Julia Cheiffetz (an Editor at HarperCollins), Karen Abbott (author of a really wonderful book called Sin in the Second City), and Alec Baldwin (who needs
no introduction).
Donald Sultan and Ellen Lewis. Mr. Sultan is a painter. Ms. Lewis works for CNBC as a producer for on-air promotional campaigns. Mario Dyyon has worked as a guard at the Met for nearly 21 years. "I'm a painter. I still have The Daily News front page from the day Pablo Picasso died. He was really wonderful. But the man was a trouble-maker, you know. You think he's going to go right, and he goes left. He had a wonderful eye — like de Kooning. When Picasso had an idea he could run like crazy."
Christopher Mason and Alexandra Schlesinger. Kristi Jacobson with Alec Baldwin. Ms. Jacobson is a documentary film-maker whose most recent film, Toots, is about her father, Toots Shor.
Ghislaine Cardon and Dana Anderson. Ms. Cardon is an Assistant Development Officer for Special Events. Ms. Anderson is Officer for Individual Giving.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz
all rights reserved.
The four enlarged photographs of Pablo Picasso in the entrance foyer of the Picasso Exhibition are ©2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.