Monday, January 3, 2011

37 Things: See Picasso Exhibit at SAM

The Musée National Picasso in Paris is closed for a couple of years for a major renovation. When we went to Paris a few years ago, we were lucky enough to get to see these amazing works from Picasso's personal collection that were given to the government to help pay inheritance taxes after he died in 1973. He was a smart cookie and kept important works from all the different stages of his career that spanned 8 decades.

It is a moderately-sized museum, containing works in order of their creation of Picasso's work. It is filled with hundreds of items, but when I say moderately-sized, I mean you can get through the whole thing in 2 or 3 hours and not feel overwhelmed. Going to museums can be hard work on your brain. (If you are paying attention, that is.)

During this renovation, over 100 of the pieces are taking a world tour and the first stop is at the Seattle Art Museum. It's only there for 3 months and you can't just march in and buy a ticket on the fly; you have to plan for a certain time in advance. They only let a certain amount of people into the exhibit every 20 minutes. Once you are in, you can stay as long as you like. We went in a mad crush at 3pm on the Thursday before New Year's and we were packed in like sardines. I am of a mind to try and purchase a ticket to go again in the middle of the week at the very first slot in the morning. Although they are probably all sold out by now as it ends in 3 weeks.

(Picasso had a lot of long term lovers in his lifetime. Below is a portrait of one time muse Dora Mar-one of my favorites.)

I also heard from a friend that this exhibit was far better than seeing it in the Picasso Museum because more is on display. Sadly, I have to disagree slightly. Don't get me wrong, this exhibit is worth standing in line for a half hour and paying $23. But I enjoyed the Picasso Museum better because a) we were in France and looking at Picasso in France feels more extravagant than looking at Picasso in Seattle and b) there were hardly any crowds. You could really get up close to the pieces without people huffing and puffing behind you.

I get very uppity about the museum shuffle, as I call it. Stare at piece, register nothing, push people and move onto next piece, repeat. Sorry, but what is the point? If you are going just to say you have been, then you have no business to be there at all. OK, done with rant.

And while there was some sculpture at the SAM exhibit, there was a really lovely sculpture garden on the museum grounds in Paris. AND the Picasso museum allowed you to take photos (sans flash) while the Seattle Art Museum did not. The photo below we took of ourselves in the outside garden. It gave it a nice, personal twist to remember the trip by. (Note to self: I miss that haircut.) Although, in hind sight, this is probably a good policy at SAM because there would just be a million people with camera phones forgetting to actually look at the art.

Now, not everything I have to say about the Picasso exhibit is bad; far from it. The commentary on the little headsets was wonderful. I think the people that walked the exhibit without the headsets really missed out because there was little to no analysis of the pieces in the galleries themselves.

For example, many people wouldn't have realized that he occasionally left pieces unfinished to remind the viewer that you are not looking at reality. This portrait of his first wife, Olga, is beautiful in her details and seems abandoned. It was considered finished by the artist.

I was especially struck by this painting of Sacre Coeur in Paris. While listening to the commentary for this, I discovered that Picasso did not believe in true abstract art and thought that every piece begins with an image.

Picasso is inspiring to me because he worked so hard, was prolific, was not afraid to take chances, and was able to create a range of styles that are still all distinctly his own. He had various themes he referred to his whole life. He was extremely narcissistic, which is probably what made him such a good artist. If you have to0 many worries about what you are doing and what you are worth, it is hard to have so much output in one lifetime.

If you have any chance to see this, go go go, and make sure you get a headset and try to go early in the day! It ends January 17th.

Without a doubt, one of the easiest and most enjoyable items on my list of 37 Things I Want to Do Before I Turn 38. We ended the evening at Wild Ginger and stayed the night at the Hotel Max. Good times!

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