Picasso in Richmond

This weekend (after the fabulous opening of Reflections Past and Present by Lila Oliver Asher) I went to see Picasso: the Musée National Picasso, Paris currently on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, VA.  I’m not a huge fan of Picasso, to be perfectly honest, but this is a must-see show for any art history buff.

The exhibition, co-organized by the Musée National Picasso, features 176 works from the artist’s personal collection and dating through his entire career.  Works not to miss include two studies for Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, as well as the portrait Celestina, from his Blue Period.  Also of interest to this print-centric viewer were the number of etchings and drypoints included.  Some were amongst the earliest works included, dating to 1903 and spanning through most of the rest of his career.  An interesting technical puzzle I couldn’t quite figure out was the plate size.  The height by width is evident in the border of the picture frame, but the plate-mark seemed very large, like he was working on a plate twice the thickness of most intaglio plates today.  I don’t know if this is just an illusion created by the way it was printed or perhaps even the aging of the paper, but I would love to hear from others who have seen his prints or prints from that time period to see if they have ever noticed this.

One favorite I want to mention is the painting The Studio of La Caifornie.  A simple, washy oil painting of the studio, I found it clever for its treatment of the canvasses included in the scene:  The whites of the depicted canvasses are all the white of the actual canvas.  A stack of paintings in one corner has paintings in progress on them, but front and center is a blank canvas, which is, quite literally, blank canvas–a funny little visual metaphor by Picasso.

The VMFA is the only east-coast venue for this exhibition’s international seven-city tour, and is on view until May 15, 2011.  More details can be found at VMFA’s website.

-written by Annie Turner, Director, WPG

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2 responses to “Picasso in Richmond

  1. Joan C. Thompson, MA, MFA

    I didn’t see the Picasso show in Seattle, but while there last October I did see a number of Picasso etchings on special display at Davis Dominguez Gallery. I found myself just leaning into them and absorbing the exquisite meandering lines, no notice of the plate edge!

  2. I too, enjoyed the line quality. Maybe it was just coincidence that the prints in this exhibition looked so deep. If anyone else has a chance to see Picasso prints, it’s worth it!