Observations by ecodecoarora
Originally posted elsewhere on 9 May 2012
On 24 April 2012, I attended the much anticipated preview of Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris at the Art Gallery of Ontario. A selection of 147 works from the artist’s personal collection held at the Musée in Paris ranging from photographs, works on paper and oils to bronzes and sculptures had been selected by Anne Baldassari, its chairwoman and chief curator of collections. Picassos were hung throughout seven rooms which comprised a chronological retrospective from the very beginning till the very end of the artist’s working life. This retrospective is “an invitation into [Picasso’s] thought process,” elucidated the AGO’s Director & CEO, Matthew Teitelbaum, at the well-attended Media Preview earlier that day.
The arrival of a Picasso exhibit at the AGO constitutes the second time since 1964 that the museum (then named the Art Gallery of Toronto) is playing host to the artist’s works; the first time round Picasso himself had chosen some of the exhibition’s works. Almost fifty years later, museum-goers can enjoy this illuminating collection which makes its only North American stop here from 01 May till 26 August 2012. “I think AGO will be the Picasso museum in Canada for the next months,” warmly announced Anne Baldassari. The collection has been touring the world over the last year since the Paris-based museum closed its doors in 2009 to undergo an extensive face-lift. Its re-opening is scheduled for 2013.
Following the delivery of brief speeches by Teitelbaum, Baldassari and lead sponsor, BMO Financial Group, along with acknowledgements from the AGO’s lead promotional partners including Joe Fresh and others, the exhibit floors were opened.
I walked into the din of a crowded hall full of anticipation. Scanning the room, I glanced at the works but also the people beholding them. I recognized someone. A notable art critic. Only a week earlier I had seen him in print. With slight trepidation, I approached this fellow art viewer and introduced myself. We were in Room 2, thematically entitled Making Way: Ancient, African and Oceanic Inspirations (1906–1909), with this corresponding quote on the wall to entreat viewers to enter Picasso’s psyche: “Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.”
DB and I discussed the relevance and the aesthetic pleasure of art sprinkled with mentions from our own psyches: family, relationships, friends. It was fun to exchange thoughts and, as the saying goes, time just flew by. To be honest, I believe we were there to realize some personal truths of our own in spite of the ticking clock. When we eventually did look around, all the rooms had been cleared, and only twenty minutes remained before the end of the Media Preview! Both of us, ha!, had wrongfully assumed we would have all day to experience these artworks.
On a personal note, I felt wonderfully privileged to be in the company of masterpieces that have punctuated 20th century history. And it served up happy nostalgia of my university days in Paris as a student of the history of art. As I meandered through the rest of the show, Teitelbaum’s intuitive remark a bit earlier about how “museums are actually a place to be together, to share ideas” came to mind. Absolument, il avait vachement raison!
At the end of the viewing, I took refuge in the relative silence of the newly installed pop-up café in the Gallery Italia which will remain till the show’s pre-Labour Day closing. Other new features introduced by the director in the context of “creating a social experience around the content of the exhibition” include free, kid-friendly audio guides, Paella Tuesdays at Frank restaurant and other cultural offerings unveiled on the AGO’s events calendar.
Immersed in the light of day post-exhibition with the lingering delight of a beautifully curated visual experience, again Teitelbaum’s remarks at the Media Preview rang true: “Museums exist to help us with language, with ways of thinking, with ways of approaching challenges in our world. Maybe artists might be some of our very best guides in that regard…to help us imagine new ways to think.”