“Everything you can imagine is real”
– Pablo Picasso
Only a few blocks from our apartment is the Musee Picasso. Picasso’s personal collection was donated to the state in lieu of estate taxes and has been preserved and exhibited by the state since shortly after his death. A private mansion, Hotel Sale was an historic monument owned by the city of Paris and was chosen to house the collection.
We arrive early to the big gates and get in the small cue. By opening time, the cue is considerably longer and we are happy to have timed our arrival well. The big heavy gates are finally thrown open and we are admitted into the central courtyard of this large mansion. The building itself is beautiful. It was only re-opened about six months ago after a lengthy five year renovation. I feel so lucky that they got it all completed in time for my arrival! Inside we find a stunning central staircase. Big, wide, very old stairs that dip down into their well worn centre, lead us through several layers of incredible fascination; as we explore Pabs life.
Pablo Picasso has both fascinated and confused me as an artist. There seems to be a childlike naivety to some of his work that I think I may have misinterpreted as simplicity at one time. It is anything but simple. As we move through the Musee we see examples of his work throughout his life from beautifully rendered early classical pieces to his stunning periods of surrealism and cubism. I love the story that apparently an elderly Picasso when encountering a group of school children, remarked, “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.”
The thing I have found with his visually lopsided, wonky, simplistic works, is that when I slow down and openly appreciate them it feels like he has found a way to cut away any pretense in his subject, cutting to the chase. His work is pure essence. It seems to me that over his career he has moved through classical training to trusting his true source energy, his soul. It feels like his portraits are more his expression of the subject’s soul than a rendering of their physical image, what he sensed and felt.
“Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs.” PP
I love that Picasso was not prepared to be bound by the conventions of his classical training. He chopped up paintings and put them together again in an an abstract way to challenge us the viewers to use our own minds to find the subject, to think. He layered all kinds of materials into his collages.
I love this museum, there are so many very special little things. I am humbled when we find a little old chair with a palette set on top of it. Little daubs of colour and a crusty old brush. It reminds me that wealth is not about money.
I feel so rich standing here surrounded by beauty. Beauty expressed with passion and I know that in his own way Picasso was deeply, richly, passionately wealthy. He pushed all of the boundaries and I find his attitude so inspiring.