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Sunday, January 07, 2018

Through the Eyes of a Copycat?

Just to get it out up front, I am a Picasso fan, and nothing about this makes me less so. Like Miles Davis and Salvador Dali, he managed to reinvent himself over and over, and understood how to be a rock star at whatever you do.

The Through the Eyes of Picasso exhibit at the Nelson features a lot of Picasso paintings and sculptures, and that alone makes it worth the price of admission.

And not to digress too badly, but memberships at the Nelson are worth the price, too. On street parking around the museum is scarce, and the membership gets you free parking in their covered garage; for a hundred bucks I got me and Corinna the 'duo' membership which includes up to four tickets per day for their special exhibits. Between the tickets and the parking, the ROI is about two visits.

Anyway, unlike the Met, the museum generally is free will donation as far as admission goes, something which made it a go-to destination for me and my kids when I was struggling with the single daddy thing, but if you can find the scratch to join it's well worth it.

But back to Picasso. There's a lot of his works on display, and even if you've seen a piece online or in books or whatever, it's never the same. For one thing, scale, your mind fills in a size when you see an image online or in a magazine. Like how people comment about how small the Mona Lisa turns out to be, I found myself repeatedly thinking, I didn't know that was so big. Or in one case, so small.

See what I mean about scale?

Speaking of scale: size doesn't matter? Please, go on...

There's also a lot of African art he collected. And it's astonishingly hard to tell which is which sometimes. Sure, the canvasses are pretty much all Picasso, but the sculptures, I can't tell without the plaques which is which. And a lot of those canvases look a lot like objets and masks he had in his collection.

And a lot of the paintings are basically faithful reproductions of ceremonial masks and whatnot. I guess it's true that talent robs and genius steals.

In his defense, while you can clearly see that a lot of these things didn't just spring from Picasso's fertile imagination, there is some originality in the fact that he pursued art traditions outside Europe at a time when most trained artists considered those traditions lesser disciplines (or not even disciplines).

I'm going to go back. I had Mo with me, and that dictates a little bit of pace. She doesn't have the patience for me to read everything, and there's a lot there. Being a fan of the artist, I had seen a lot of these canvases online or in print, but chills went down my spine when I encountered the real thing.

I had similar experiences when I went to the Met on my New York pilgrimage about fifteen years ago, and when I visited the Modern Wing at the Chicago Art Institute

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