San Francisco.- The travelling exhibition “Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris” reaches the de Young Museum in San Francisco on June 11th. The de Young will host this extraordinary exhibition of more than 100 masterpieces by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) from the permanent collection of Paris’s world-renowned Musée National Picasso until October 9th. The once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, made possible only because of the temporary closure of the Musée Picasso until 2012 for extensive renovations, comprises paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints drawn from every phase of the artist’s career.
The Musée Picasso’s holdings stand apart from any other collections of Picasso because they represent the artist’s personal collection — works that the highly self-aware artist kept for himself with the intent of shaping his own artistic legacy. Picasso’s lengthy career spanned both world wars, the Spanish civil war and the Korean War, and each conflict exerted a presence in his work. The impending chaos of World War II, for instance, is reflected in such canvases as “Man with a Straw Hat and Ice Cream Cone” (1938) and “Cat Seizing a Bird” (1939). The works on view demonstrate the wide range of artistic styles and forms that the artist mastered, including, “Celestina” (1904), from the artist’s Blue Period, “Two Brothers” (1906), from the Rose Period; Expressionist studies for “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907); the Cubist “Man with a Guitar” (1911), the Neoclassical “Portrait of Olga” (1917), the artist’s wife; the proto-Surrealist “Two Women Running on a Beach” (1922); “Portrait of Dora Maar” (1937), the artist’s lover and famed French artist; six Surrealist bronze heads of the artist’s mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter; the “Head of a Bull” (1942) fabricated from a bicycle seat and handlebars; the bronze “Goat” (1950); the six life-size bronze “Bathers” (1956); and the late self-portrait “The Matador” (1970).
The de Young Museum opened in 1895 as an outgrowth of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. It was housed in an Egyptian style structure which had been the Fine Arts Building at the fair. The building was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1906 and was demolished and replaced in 1929 with a Spanish Renaissance style structure. This building was originally decorated with cast-concrete ornaments on the façade. As part of the agreement that created the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 1972, the de Young’s collection of European art was sent to the Legion of Honor. In compensation, the de Young received the right to display the bulk of the organization’s anthropological holdings. These include significant pre-Hispanic works from Teotihuacan and Peru, as well as indigenous tribal art from sub-Saharan Africa. The building was severely damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. It in turn was demolished and replaced by a new building in 2005. Constructed of warm, natural materials including copper, stone, wood and glass, the new de Young blends with and complements its natural surroundings. Ribbons of windows erase the boundary between the museum interior and the lush natural environment outside, and four public entrances segue naturally from the park’s pathways, welcoming visitors from all directions. The building’s dramatic copper facade is perforated and textured to replicate the impression made by light filtering through a tree canopy, creating an artistic abstraction on the exterior of the museum that resonates with the de Young’s tree-filled park setting. The building’s copper skin, chosen for its changeable quality through oxidation, will assume a rich patina over time that will blend gracefully with the surrounding natural environment. Currently the de Young’s collection exceeds 27,000 works of art and is renowned for its holdings in American art of all periods, including painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and works on paper; the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and costumes and textiles representing a wide variety of Eastern and Western traditions. Visit the museum’s website at … http://deyoung.famsf.org