Here is the blockbuster of all exhibitions of this fall in Paris: Picasso and the Masters at Grand-Palais, and if you ask for more, Picasso/Manet : le déjeuner sur l’herbe at Musée d’Orsay, and Picasso/Delacroix: Femmes d’Alger at the Louvre.
Long before it started, it was mentioned in most French medias : ” It’s so important, it’s so expensive, it’s been so difficult to achieve, it’s a major event…”
I just visited the main course of the menu, at Grand-Palais, so this will be my first contribution on the subject.
We have a proverb, in France, which came to my mind when I left the museum. It says : Qui trop embrasse mal étreint (” who embraces too much grasps poorly”), and has a double meaning :(” he who kisses too much is a poor lover”). There is a playful, witty aspect in Picasso’s work that is completely lost in this solemn presentation.
Still, this exhibition issue and tittle could have been given by Picasso himself.
One of the most important and well known work of analysis, dissection, transformation achieved by Picasso is the serie of 44 Ménines d’après Vélasquez painted in 1957 between August 17 and December 30.
Here was a tough issue : The Ménines stay in Madrid Prado Museum, and don’t travel : they’re too large (318cmx276cm), too old (1656), and too precious. The chosen solution hardly solves the problem. A small diapositive of the Ménines by Velasquez is hanging close to the ceiling in the corner of the room where some of the actual Ménines by Picasso are exhibited. This device gives no idea of Picasso‘s confrontation with Velasquez work.
Diego Velasquez, la famille de Philippe IV, dit les Ménines(1656) Madrid Museo Nacional del Prado, versus les Ménines d’après Vélasquez by Pablo Picasso (septembre 1957) Barcelona, Museu Picasso, as shown in the exhibition catalog.
Picasso facing Poussin and David is more convincingly exhibited, for the ancient Masters paintings stay in France.
Another thing puzzled me, each room is dedicated to a theme (self-portrait, nude, still-life…) and mixes Picasso paintings of all periods, and besides, some links pointed between his work and earlier examples are somewhat irrelevant.
There are actually many famous masterpieces from museums abroad in this large exhibition, and it’s always great to have the opportunity to look at them. So, in spite of my restrictions, I don’t want you to think that it is not worth visiting – and besides, you might completely disagree with me. Do make a reservation, because it’s very popular, and if you don’t, you might have to stand in line for hours before getting in.
Picasso et les Maîtres, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Metro Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau everyday except Tuesday 10 to 22, up to 20 on Thursday. Up to February 2 (entrance square Jean Perrin).
More information, virtual visit on http://www.rmn.fr/Exposition-Picasso-et-les-Maitre