samedi 30 octobre 2010

A little bit of Picasso visits Seattle

The Musée Picasso in Paris is closed for renovation and expansion. Il était temps! That splendid museum, which is actually a converted 17th century townhouse in the Marais, could only display 300 of Picasso's works at a time (out of the 5,000 in its possession!), faute de place.

Some 150 of these works have made their way to Seattle, and other works have been packaged and shipped elsewhere, for public viewing while the work is carried out on the museum.

We got to go last night as part of a special evening sponsored by Alliance française. Our visit included wine, cheese and a brief but very informative pre-tour talk by SAM's Chiyo Ichikawa. Is it worth seeing Picasso in Seattle? Yes, I think so. The selection made available to SAM gives viewers a sense of the breadth and diversity of Picasso's long and protean career as an artist. And it is always exciting to see actual paintings and sculptures as opposed to photos of them in books. Like the work of any great artist, Picasso's needs to be viewed the flesh to be fully appreciated, I think.

Everyone will find something to like. Personally, I enjoyed watching a couple of Robert Picault's black and white videos of Picasso at work in the studio circa 1950. I also liked some of the photos, including a couple of self-portraits.

It was strange to see Picasso exhibited in Seattle, out of his element somehow. Maybe this is because I associate Picasso with the Musée Picasso in Paris, which I lived very close to for a couple of years during my Marais period. My apartment was on Rue Saint Antoine, which is near St Paul, La Bastille and La Place des Vosges. I used to walk by the Picasso museum on my way to visit a friend who -- get this -- was living in the magnificent Paris townhouse owned by the Farah Diba, wife of the deposed Shah of Iran. I won't get into why or how my friend ended up there, or even where it was located exactly. But it was an incredible place by anyone's standards. My friend was the daughter of an ex "political analyst for the State Department" (wink, wink). National security prevents me from saying another word about her or the Farah's townhouse. I value my ongoing existence.