Saturday, June 2, 2012

Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris

Marking the only Canadian stop on its world tour, the highly anticipated exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on May 1, 2012.

The Musée National Picasso, Paris has been temporarily closed this season for renovations, sending its treasures out on a rare world tour. “We at the AGO are proud to be the only Canadian institution to present this truly unparalleled exhibition,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, AGO director and CEO. “Picasso’s artistry was constantly evolving, and this particular collection offers our members and visitors a rare opportunity to experience the entire trajectory of his artistic achievement.”

Exhibited chronologically and covering virtually every phase of the modern master’s unceasingly radical and diverse career, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris features 147 of the works he kept for himself and his family, dubbing the term “Picasso’s Picassos”:

“Picasso is a true artistic legend whose profound work revolutionized fine art, captivating audiences across borders and beyond time,” said Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “The McGuinty Government is proud to partner with the AGO to bring this exciting exhibit to Ontario for its only Canadian stop, ensuring Ontarians and visitors alike have an opportunity to explore and experience Picasso’s prolific work.”

Co-organized by the Musée National Picasso, Paris, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, the exhibition is curated by Anne Baldassari, chairman and chief curator of collections of the Musée National Picasso, Paris. Elizabeth Smith, the AGO’s executive director of curatorial affairs, will oversee the exhibition’s installation at the AGO.

An exhibition for all ages, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris features a special audio tour created just for children. Opening simultaneously with the exhibition, the new Family Creativity Lounge in the Margaret & Jim Fleck Gallery will provide visitors of all ages a space to stop, rest and have fun, engaging with art-making and ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. It will feature comfortable seating, books and a large table with drawing and other art-making activities.

“I paint the way some people write an autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages from my

This exhibition offers a rare perspective on the life and work of this iconic artist: his own. It features works from Picasso’s private collection, now in the holdings of the Musée National Picasso in Paris, whilst the museum undergoes renovations. Over a career of more than seventy years, these are the works he kept with the intent of shaping his own artistic legacy.

The AGO is the sole Canadian and final venue on an international tour, which includes stops in Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, Helsinki, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Seattle, Richmond, San Francisco and Sydney. The pieces on display span this modern master’s unceasingly radical and diverse career, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris features:

The Death of Casagemas, one of the first works he created in Paris in 1901;

Autoportrait (Self-Portrait), the iconic 1906 self-portrait;

the 1904 Blue-period masterpiece Celestina (The Woman with One-Eye), and

The Two Brothers, a 1906 work from his Rose period;landmark African-inspired artwork that led to the advent of Cubism, including studies for the 1907 masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Three Figures Beneath a Tree, 1907-08;examples of his genre-defining Analytic and Synthetic Cubism artworks, including the 1909-10 Sacré Coeur, 1911’s seminal Man with a Guitar and 1915’s Violin;

Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race), a 1922 masterwork from his Neoclassical period, and

1925’s The Kiss, from his Surrealist period; a series of sculptures created during the Second World War, including 1942’s Bull’s Head, and two bronzes, 1943’s Death’s Head and 1950’s The Goat; The Bathers, the 1956 life-sized, six-piece figurative sculpture series created during a summer in Cannes; and

The Matador
, the famous self-portrait painted in 1970, three years before his death.

The exhibition also highlights Picasso’s depictions of his muses and mistresses, including

1918’s Portrait of Olga in an Armchair, which features the Russian ballerina and Picasso’s first wife seated on a Spanish tapestry, the background left purposefully unfinished. French surrealist photographer Dora Maar, who inspired his 1937 “Weeping Woman” series, is also prominently featured, as is Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife and most-painted muse, depicted in the 1954 work

Jacqueline with Crossed Hands.

Ultimately, every Picasso artwork is about Picasso – the works reveal his unique vision of the world and embody his profound responses to it. They lay bare the beauty and anxieties of his time, the horrors of war, as well as his personal passions, desires and fears.


With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Kenneth Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that, in 2008, resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport . Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.