Picasso art on display at de Young

June 10, 2011 8:18:59 PM PDT
An exhibition of definitive works by painter Pablo Picasso opens Saturday at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Picasso is probably the best known artist of the 20th century and as you can see through this report, this exhibition is a significant collection.

If you take just one look in the galleries, you can understand why Pablo Picasso was the most influential artist of the 20th century. His art covered an incredibly wide range of ideas.

"You are seeing the eye and hand and thoughts of a great living old master in his lifetime, sort of reinventing the very definition of art," said curator Timothy Anglin Burgard.

"He was constantly reinventing his concept, his style, his philosophy right down to the 1970s," said director of Fine Arts Museums John Buchanan. "You see the works that provided so much influence to generation after generation of other artists."

"You could embrace it, reject it, but you had to deal with it. He was such a protean influence in the art world. The history of Picasso and his work and its evolution is almost the history of modernism itself," said Burgard.

There are 150 significant paintings, sculptures and works on paper being displayed, all from the Musee National Picasso in Paris. San Francisco is getting the art because the museum is closed for renovation.

This exhibition covers every phase of Picasso's career over eight decades. What's unique about this collection is that they are works Picasso kept for himself. Works he believed would establish his legacy. Even with these many styles, there is a common thread -- his image is in there somewhere. Picasso always had to be center stage.

"That sense of self is really what drove him to create and that self image also gave him the ability and power to see himself as a magician, a trickster," said Burgard.

Because, he says, Picasso is someone who altered the real world to create a new world of his own. The Picasso masterpieces show in the de Young Museum through October 9.

Saturday night, Spencer Christian reports from Paris -- the city that inspired Picasso. ABC7's special "Picasso: Life, Work And Legacy" airs at 6:30 p.m., June 11.

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