Musée National Picasso-Paris is situated in the heart of the Marais district, an artistic center and Parisian hub for art lovers. The Museum is located in the historic Hôtel Salé, built between 1656 and 1660, and has been a protected historic monument since 1986. Known across the world, the museum’s collection is the largest in the world. It is comprised of artworks by Picasso, as well as his personal art collection and archives, donated by Pablo and Jacqueline Picasso’s heirs, encompassing his entire life.
Truly one of the most famous and well-known artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881 to Don José Ruiz Blasco and Dona Maria Picasso y Lopez. Due to his father’s role as a professor at the École des beaux-arts in Malaga, Picasso was encouraged to paint at age 7-8, and went on to study art in Cologne and in Barcelona and classical art at the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Picasso was first exposed to modern art while in Barcelona and, upon his arrival in Paris in 1902, he became acquainted with famous artists and writers such as Henri Matisse, and Guillaume Apollinaire, the well-known champion of cubism. While in Paris, Picasso lived in Montmartre, founding the Bateau-Lavoir artist collective there in 1912. In Paris at the time, Montmartre was the artistic epicenter, where groups and individuals alike gathered to discuss art on a nightly basis.
Within the collection of the Musée Picasso-Paris, the evolution and progression of Picasso’s artistic career can be felt and experienced, with numerous examples showing the variation between his blue period, rose period, cubist period, monochrome period, and his interest in simplification inspired by African or Oceanian so called ‘primitive art’.
Currently on-view at the Musée National Picasso-Paris is the exhibition Calder-Picasso, focusing on both artists and their shared interest in abstraction and understanding of space. More information on Calder-Picasso can be found here. Other exhibitions on view at the museum include Picasso Diurnes and Picasso Intérieur Nuit, which narrate the progression of Picasso’s artistic and stylistic evolution through the museum’s collection such as his paintings LES BAIGNEUSES (1918), and DEUX FEMMES COURANT SUR LA PLAGE (1922). Paul Cézanne's paintings were one of his sources of inspiration which is related to the birth of cubism. Below, please find our selections for works at the museum which are not to be missed.
Let’s start from PICASSO, DIURNES on the 2nd floor. The theme is the artist’s universe under the sunlight. Picasso is mainly known by his various styles such as classical painting, cubism, and simplified sculpture.
Starting in the 1920’s, Picasso started to visit Antibes, in the South of France. He got sensations from the Mediterranean wind under the delightful sun, and it is represented in the painting with two hands on the right side of the photo above. They are painted in the neo-classic sculptural expression, strong fingers and their grand weight makes you feel their strength. Picasso paints it so that their energy comes out of the picture. The vivid color of the blue part like the sea is accented by the neutral color of other parts. The work transmits to you the strength of life and nature.
Maybe you have already seen the painting in the center of the photo above at least once in your life. This is the famous portrait of Dora Maar who Paul Eluard introduced to Picasso in 1938. Picasso created many paintings using Dora Maar as the model. In this painting, its form and colors are surreal, but he didn't reject the idea of resemblance. According to the artiste unmasked and represented a deeper reality "beyond the forms and colors with which things present themselves". Picasso wrote about his many portraits of Dora Maar: "I was just obeying the vision that forced itself upon me. That was the deep reality of Dora." This is a mirror of Cézanne’s theory which is an analysis of the object and a transformation with artists' knowledge. So his painting is a translation of his vision which exists in himself.
After seeing the 2nd floor, the next exhibition is PICASSO, INTERIEUR NUIT on the 3rd floor. “Intérieur nuit” means inside night in French. There, you can see Picasso’s nocturnal meditation which shows you the vision in himself where you can discover his mind more deeply.
The painting in dark colors reminds one of Picasso’s chef-d’oeuvre, Guernica. Ever since Spain's Civil War, the artist created many artworks in black and white. The PICASSO, INTERIEUR NUIT section starts from artworks focusing on his inspiration about death, his own vision born from his original thoughts in the night. It narrates Picasso’s deep sadness captured by some photographs of Warfield of Guernica.
The work on the picture above represents a minotaur, a mythical and imaginary animal which has a horse’s head and a human’s body. The history behind minotaurs is that he was transformed by God because he broke God’s promise. It expresses here the human’s ambiguity which is floating between a beast and God. Its legs running strongly represent someone who tries to throw off the labyrinth of suffers.
Even the architecture of the Musée national Picasso-Paris is worthy to come to see, like the 17th century’s architecture, the decorations and the furniture of Diego Giacometti, the brother of Alberto Giacometti, adds to a modern and original atmosphere. The museum is very popular amongst Parisians and tourists. To avoid waiting in a long queue, we recommend that you book your ticket in advance online with the O’bon Paris’ special promo code to receive a 2 euro discount. Also, you can have a more comfortable visit by using an audio guide and free cloak service. After enjoying Picasso and Paris’s special atmosphere, you can extend your experience by buying souvenirs in the souvenir shop beside the entrance or in the boutique in front of the gate of Hôtel Salé.
Words by Yuka Ishihara
Photographs by Yuna Lee
Address: 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris
Transportation: Metro line 1 Saint-Paul Station or line 8 Saint Sébastien Froissart
Exhibition Period: CALDER - PICASSO February 19th, 2019 to August 25th, 2019 / PICASSO, DIURNES March 26 - July 14, 2019 / Picasso, Intérieur nuit March 26 - July 14, 2019
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:30-18:00 (Extended hours from 9:30 on weekends and holidays)
Price: Full Price - 14 euros / Reduced Price - 11 euros / EU Residents under 26 years old, under 18 years old, on the first Sunday of each month - Free
Audio Guide (French, English, Spanish, German and Chinese): Full Price - 5 euros / Reduced Price - 4 euros