On 21 September 2012, David Douglas Duncan called me to tell me he would like to donate a number of his photographs on Picasso. I suggested he could present the donation on the same day that the Museum was to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary, on 9 March 2013. We continued to talk over the phone and send each other faxes, DDD’s usual mode of communication. On the following 5 October, after DDD had discussed the production of these new prints with the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas in Austin, the archive to which he had donated the negatives of his works in the 1990s, he postponed the presentation date to 25 October, Picasso’s birthday.
We recently welcomed Mark Bessire, director of the Portland Museum of Art, to speak in the seminar on collecting and sponsorship organized by the museum and the Fundación Godia. We felt that his experience in fund raising, although belonging to a very different cultural and economic environment, was not only enlightening but it also provided us with helpful tips as to how to understand the relationship between donors and institutions, so we asked him to let us publish it in our blog.
Artists founded the Portland Society of Art in 1882. While most American museums were founded by industrialists aspiring to gain European sophistication and to bring cultural education to Americans, we were founded by people who wanted to make art and display it for their community.
At the end of October the exhibition “Picasso ceramics. Jacqueline’s gift to Barcelona” was presented, an exhibition that commemorates the 30th anniversary of the donation of 41 ceramic pieces from her private collection that Jacqueline gave to the Museu Picasso, Barcelona.
For all of us at the Museum the greeting card for Christmas 2010 and this new year that has just begun had a star that was foreseeable but at the same time unexpected: a photograph of Pablo Picasso! The unexpected part is that this is an unpublished photograph, the very existence of which was previously unknown.
One of the greatest joys of my professional life was when we learned from the Daily Telegraph of 1 May 1984 about the will of the late Lord Amulree. Basil William Sholto Mackenzie, 2nd Baron Amulree, KBE, FRCP (1900-1983), a leading specialist in geriatrics and chronic illness, President of the Society for the Study of Medial Ethics and Liberal Peer and Whip in the House of Lords from 1955 until 1977, had bequeathed a painting by Matisse to the Tate Gallery, a Monet at the National Gallery of Scotland, a Braque to the Israel Museum in Jersusalem and Picasso’s The Offering to the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. It was the English art historian and collector Douglas Cooper (1915-1985) who informed the Museum of Lord Amulree’s wonderful donation and put us in touch with the executors.
Once the legal and tax details had been dealt with, The Offering was shipped to the Museum and presented on 19 November 1985. We on the staff experienced the usual combination of initial surprise and an almost euphoric gratitude felt by any museum receiving a donation, but magnified in this case by our complete lack of personal knowledge of our generous benefactor, the entirely unexpected nature of the legacy and the importance of the work, because the series of drawings and paintings devoted to the subject of the offering is vital to any understanding of the path that led Picasso to the invention of Cubism. This gouache, small in size but very big in significance, and one of the Museum’s most emblematic works, is a paradigm of how Picasso gathered so much from the past and then dynamited it sky high to create his own language. Read more »
Looking back over 2009, what can we say we are proud of? Of the number of visitors? Of course that’s important but not more than other aspects, although naturally we value and are very grateful for the number of visitors we receive.
However, what we really are proud of is the fact of promoting the educational programme, of having produced some temporary exhibitions that, as a result of the research, have contributed new knowledge about the works of Picasso, of having renovated the museographic presentation of the series of Las Meninas, of having restored the ceilings of the Palau Aguilar, of the increase in loans of works to international exhibitions, of having started the works of the new building that will accommodate the new services of Knowledge and Research, of having put the collection online, of having renewed the spaces of security with leading-edge technology, of having increased the acquisitions of the collection of the museum, of having diversified the offer of activities and with a multi-disciplinary vision, of having actively entered in the social networks or 2.0, of having invited international and national experts to collaborate with the museum.
The return of Las Meninas to the museum after being out on loan for the exhibitions Picasso et les maitres, at the Grand Palais in Paris, and Picasso. Challenging the Past, at the National Gallery in London, together with the important gift of a preliminary drawing of the series, has led the Museum to a new presentation of the series of variations on the great painting by Velázquez that Picasso made between August and December 1957.
Our intention has been to respect the will of the artist and faithfully reflect his creative process. According to his friend and biographer Roland Penrose (Roland Penrose, Picasso. His Life and Work, 3rd e., University of California Press, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1981, p. 434), Picasso was adamant thet the complete series of 58 paintings be kept together. He resolved not to sell any of them, and in order to ensure this unity he donated the whole series to the Museu Picasso of Barcelona in 1968. Interestengly, the artist left a record of the rhythm at which he was working, dating all of the canvases on the back, and even noting the order of execution on the occasions when he painted more than one on the same day. Read more »
Since last May 26, the Museu Picasso has the only known preparatory sketch for the Las Meninas series, which reveals how Pablo Picasso conceived and addressed that great work. He made sketch the very day before painting the first canvas in the series.
Thanks to the generosity of Catherine Hutin, the daughter of Jacqueline Picasso, the museum now has the only known sketch of Las Meninas. Catherine is following in her mother’s footsteps in maintaining Pablo Picasso’s close ties with the city of Barcelona.
We know that Picasso shut himself in the studio at La Californie, his villa near Cannes, from 16 August to 30 December 1957 to work on the series Las Meninas, one of the most in-depth analyses ever made of the great painting by Velázquez. We shall very soon be privileged to contemplate the Picasso canvas (been on temporary loan to the National Gallery for the exhibition Picasso.Challenging the Past), dated August 17, 1957, together with the sketch, and delight once more in the artist’s greatness.