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Picasso's Private Collection Draws US Crowds

The works, now on exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, represent every media and style artist Pablo Picasso ever worked in.

Works by Pablo Picasso, one of the most important artists of the modern era, have been touring the globe while their home in Paris is renovated. They recently arrived at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is located in the state capital of Richmond.

There are nearly 200 works in the exhibition, spanning 71 years of Picasso's lengthy career from 1901 to 1972, the year before his death.

"We have 5,000 works and we present here about 200," says Anne Baldassari, curator of the exhibition and director of the Musee National Picasso in Paris, the permanent home of the Picasso collection. "So it is just a small part that is set in a very didactic way to give the best understanding of the Picasso creative process."

The exhibit also offers an understanding of how Picasso wanted to be seen.

"This is Picasso’s personal collection," says Alex Nyerges, director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "During his lifetime he kept all of the things he loved the best, thousands upon thousands of works of art. When his estate was being settled, the Musee Picasso was created."

The works represent every media and every style Picasso worked in.

"He was in a perpetual revolution," says Baldassari. "Painting was the main medium for him. Sculpture was a kind of matrix. He was a very important photographer and fantastic print maker. He was a real creator."

An African influence can be seen in Picasso's works, particularly his sculptures.
An African influence can be seen in Picasso's works, particularly his sculptures.

Nyerges agrees. "He essentially created what we think of as modern and contemporary art. Everything that happened in the 20th century and now the 21st century relates back to Picasso in some way, shape or form."

Picasso took his inspiration not only from European art, but also non-Western art, which becomes clear in a visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ African art galleries.

"The juxtaposition of those exhibitions and the Picasso show is marvelous," says Nyerges, "because you see how Picasso is drawing back into Africa for form and composition and particularly with sculpture."

The exhibit is a coup for the museum. It is part of a limited national and international tour of the greatest collection of Picasso in the world. The show gives Picasso’s admirers a chance to see some of the works the artist himself valued most.