Picasso Figures opens at The Frist on February 5

Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). Portrait of Dora Maar, Paris, November 23, 1937. Oil on canvas, 21 3/4 x 18 1/4 in. Musée national Picasso-Paris, Pablo Picasso Acceptance in Lieu, 1979. MP166. © 2021 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau

NASHVILLE — He’s probably the most important art figure of the 20th century and getting to see his work in person is a very big deal.

The Frist Art Museum will kick off Picasso Figures, an exhibition from the collection of the Musée national Picasso-Paris on Friday, February 5. The exhibition offers an in-depth look at Pablo Picasso’s career-long fascination with the human figure as a means of expressing a range of subjects and emotions. Featuring approximately 75 paintings, works on paper, and sculptures, Picasso Figures will make its sole U.S. appearance in Nashville in the Frist’s Ingram Gallery from February 5 through May 2.

Highlights of the exhibition include masterpieces from Picasso’s various styles and periods, as well as more intimate works that provide fresh insights into his innovative practice.

“Viewers will see how, as Picasso continuously deconstructed and then remade the body, he was also recasting the history of figuration as a combination of his own psychological view of humanity and observations about the disruptive nature of life in the 20th century,” says Frist Art Museum Chief Curator Mark Scala.

A panoramic survey of Picasso’s career, the exhibition opens with portrayals of his wives and lovers in a range of styles, which often capture the turbulence of their relationships.  The focus then shifts to Picasso’s renowned cubist period of the early 20th century. Of particular interest are works that demonstrate the powerful influence of African and Iberian art on this radical style, in which perceptions of time, space, and reality are altered in ways that embody the ideal of artistic freedom manifested by artists of the period. Continuing through the exhibition, visitors will encounter paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that reflect Picasso’s experiments with a variety of styles, including surrealism, neoclassicism, and expressionism. Picasso. Figures culminates in late works, characterized by vivid colors, exuberant brushstrokes, and playful twists on the old masters, showing that Picasso’s endless desire to reinvent painting continued until the end of his life.  

“We are delighted to work with the Musée national Picasso-Paris—the home of the world’s largest and most comprehensive public collection of works by the iconic artist—to bring Picasso. Figures to Nashville,” says Frist Art Museum director and CEO Susan H. Edwards. “Through the extraordinary generosity and support of our community for almost 20 years now, we have been able to deliver on our mission to present world-class exhibitions in Nashville. For many years, we have been looking for a Picasso show of this caliber, and we are thrilled that during our 20th anniversary we will be able to share this astonishing collection with our city and everyone who will travel to see it.”

Advanced tickets may be purchased at the Frist website now. •

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