Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Finding Pablo

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is hosting an exhibit from the Picasso Museum in Paris. I was able to check it out this morning as a chaperone of the Islander Middle School Art Class. Ten years ago Melony, Sam and I visited the Museum while on vacation in Paris, here are my thoughts at the time:

From Notre Dame we continued across the Seine, past the many statued Hotel de Ville and up the shop lined alleys towards the Musee Picasso. We were in no hurry and so we wondered through back streets filled with chain smoking art students. We had already seen the Muse D’Orsay and the Louvre where for lack of a better term what hung on the walls resembled the actual world. Now I wanted to visit the Picasso Museum in order to see the work of the quintessential abstractionist.

Picasso claimed to be the greatest collector of Picasso and the Museum in Paris houses the artist’s personal collection of his own work. The Musee Picasso contains an eclectic collection of paintings, line drawings, ceramics and sculptures, the largest single collection of the world. I confess that I don’t understand abstract art, and have difficulty seeing Picasso’s work as anything other than childish scribbles. Secretly I hoped that surrounding myself with Picassos would switch on the light – oh now I get it.

Unfortunately our visit to the Musee Picasso only served to convince myself that much of what the guy created was little more than a big con. I’m convinced that if I would have brought in six paintings from this collection to the art gallery that displayed my photography I would have been laughed out the door. Maybe I’m too shallow for abstract art, but the bottom line is that I neither understood nor enjoyed the work of Picasso. The best I could say about the collection was that there were a few inspired pieces scattered among a bunch of crap. I would think that many artists would become disheartened after touring the museum because it convincingly demonstrates the fickle nature of the art market.

What a bunch of cynical dribble. Good thing I’ve grown up since then. I find that when it comes to art a little explanation goes a long way. Today a SAM volunteer explained a half dozen of the more important works in the exhibit and things made one heck of a lot more sense. Picasso was that once in a century type of artist who takes the status quo, cuts it up into tiny pieces, shuffles it up and presents an entirely different view. He literally redefined art.

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