May 2012

Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art & Yale University Press

  • 302 Temple Street
  • New Haven , CT

(203) 432-0960

This stunning catalog accompanied the 2010 exhibition of the same title at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an exhibition displaying for the first time the museum's entire collection of over 300 works by Picasso. An essay by Gary Tinerow, the museum's Chair of the Department of 19th Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art, introduces us to the collection and describes how it developed at this premier American institution. It began with Picasso's iconic portrait of Gertrude Stein, which Ms. Stein left as a bequest to the museum upon her death in 1947. The collection grew in fits and starts, for the Metropolitan's rival New York museums, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, laid claim to much of Picasso's work in the US. Over the years, however, the Metropolitan's collection grew and now contains pieces representing all of the artist's major periods.

Within the catalog itself, each piece is displayed in full color illustration and is accompanied by a thorough description of the work, the context in which it was created, and any other relevant bits of biographical information about Picasso that aid in appreciation of his work. We learn about Picasso's early struggles in Paris and Barcelona, his friendships with other artists, and his notorious affairs, all within the reference of particular paintings or drawings. For example, a letter to Picasso's friend Max Jacob about his seminal Blue Period work, The Blind Man's Meal, is reproduced alongside the painting. We're also shown drawings and studies related to particular works, along with x-radiograph and infrared reflectograms which allow us to see beneath the final layer of paint and reveal early versions and revisions of paintings. Finally, we learn about Picasso's historical art influences; he had an intense fascination with the 19th century artist Ingres, and readers are shown examples from Ingres' oeuvre which reveal his influence on Picasso.

Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art provides a wonderful introduction to this prolific genius of 20th century art and offers in-depth insights into his art for those more familiar with his work.

Reviewed by FIDM Library Staff Member Mollie Jones