After five years of renovations, this shrine to all things Picasso has at last reopened with double the exposition space and a more comfortable visit for the millions of visitors that tramp through its doors. Housed in the stunning Hôtel Salé, a 17th-century mansion, this unique institution valliantly strives to make sense of the incredibly diverse output of this prolific genius. Some 400 carefully selected paintings, sculptures, collages, and drawings are presented in a more or less chronological and thematic order, which is no small task when dealing with an artist who experiemented with every style, from neoclassicism to surealism to his own flamboyantly abstract inventions. Impressionist portraits (Portrait of Gustave Coquiot, 1901), cubist explorations (Man with Guitar, 1911), mannerist allegories (The Race, 1922), deconstructionist forms (Reclining Nude, 1932), make up only part of his oeuvre, which has been estimated to include some 50,000 works. Not only that, Picasso often worked in wildly different styles during the same period, sometimes treating the same subjects. For example, the rounded yet realistic lovers dancing in La Danse des Villageois painted in 1922, hang next to two forms in a blaze of color representing The Kiss painted in 1925. There is also a sampling of the highly abstract and somewhat disturbing portraits of the many women in his life, including portraits of Dora Maar and Marie-Thérèse, both painted in 1937. On the top floor is Picasso’s private collection, which includes works by artists he admired like Courbet and Cézanne, as well as paintings by his friends, who included masters like Braque and Matisse.
All in all, what you see on the walls is less than 10% of the 5,000 works in the museum’s collection; the presentation will rotate every couple of years. Unless you enjoy waiting in long lines exposed to the elements, buy your ticket in advance online; you’ll usually walk right in with your e-ticket.
- Anna Brooke