Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City
September 22, 2012—January 27, 2013
Pablo Picasso, heralded as one of the most important artists of all time, was a deep and complex man who revolutionized twentieth-century art through his enthusiastic embrace of all mediums: paintings, collages, drawings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, stage sets and costumes. Now The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art presents an intimate portrait of this groundbreaking artist with the opening of Bonjour Picasso! Sept. 22.
“This exhibition is really an introduction to the private world of Picasso,” said Jan Schall, Sanders Sosland Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art. “Visitors will see photographs of Picasso at home, with his friends and also some of the women he loved. An intimate portrait of the man will emerge through photographs and other art.”
Bonjour Picasso! features two paintings and one drawing on loan from private collections, complemented by additional Picasso works and 18 black and white photographs of Picasso and his family at home in La Californie taken by Kansas City-born photographer David Douglas Duncan. One of the loans, the painting Bust of a Faun, comes from Michael Stern, music director and lead conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, and his wife, Shelly Cryer.
“Visitors to this exhibition will come to see why Picasso is so important,” said Schall. “He revolutionized the art world, and the deeply personal works we’ve chosen illustrate how Picasso’s world influenced and informed his art.”
Bonjour Picasso! opens wide the doors to La Californie, the artist’s villa near Cannes in the south of France, where he lived from 1955 to 1961. Duncan’s photographs provide rare insights into Picasso’s life at home, showing the artist dining with his wife Jacqueline, twirling a jump rope for his children Claude and Paloma, and beginning work on a new painting. Artist friends Georges Braque and Jean Cocteau are present, in photographs and in their works of art.
Portraits of Picasso’s former loves–Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar and Françoise Gilot– are both delicate and shocking. A richly colored painting captures the bold landscape and fresh blue sky of nearby Vallauris, site of the famous Madoura Pottery, where Picasso created the elegant figured vase featured in the exhibition. His images of minotaurs and fauns make ancient myths new again.
Picasso once observed that “for those who know how to read, I have painted my autobiography.”