Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unraveling The Mysteries Of The East (2)


New Delhi, India
Photo:  Wkitravel Web site (Picture 1331)

The National Museum, New Delhi, India, is somewhat of a hidden treasure.  This writer knows many repeat visitors to India who are unaware of the asset.  The museum is well worth a visit.  Hundreds of remarkable objects are on view from a collection of over 200,000.  Some holdings are of non-Indian origin but the vast majority belong to India's heritage.  They represent some 5,000 years of civilization, from 3,000 B.C. to the present.  

Ganga, 5th century A.D., (Gupta Period), 
Uttar Pradesh, terra-cotta, 
h: 67.7 l: 29.1 w: 15.8 in. (h: 172 l: 74 w: 40 cm)
New Delhi, India
Photo:  National Museum Web site

Sculptures in a variety of materials, paintings, textiles, arms and armor, ceramics and manuscripts are just some of the artworks on view.  

Partial view of Chola Gallery, 
National Museum, New Delhi, India
Photo:  Enjoying India Web site, Verseguru (Creative Commons)

Visitors new to the arts of India may find particular galleries more engaging.  One such gallery is a room dedicated to the softly modeled, sensual sculptures of the Gupta period, c. 320 - 550 A.D., considered the classic period of Indian art; or, one devoted to the graceful, elegant and otherworldly bronzes from the Chola dynasty of South India, c. 850 - 1250 A.D. 

  Partial view of Buddhist Gallery with Stupa containing relics of Buddha,
National Museum, New Delhi, India
Photo:  Albany Kid Web site

Don't be surprised to find the Buddhist art gallery filled with saffron robed Buddhist monks.    A small stupa here contains sacred relics of the Buddha.  The shrine attracts thousands of worshippers each year.

Views of Painting Galleries,
National Museum, New Delhi, India
Photo:  National Museum Web site

The museum's miniature painting collection has both depth and breath.  Examples of all the major styles and sub-styles of Indian painting are displayed in a series of well-lit galleries.  The works astound with their exquisite intricacy.  A magnifying glass and small flash light come in handy.  Magnification brings out details that are all but impossible to see with the naked eye. In some finely painted areas, artists are said to have used a brush made with a single hair.  The sheen of gold, silver and metallic green (beetle wings) employed for highlights is lost without additional illumination.  Focused or refracted light from oil lamps or candles would have picked up the glint of these materials. Sadly, most of the silver leaf has oxidized to black but this is no deterrent from enjoying these beautiful works.  

If you go to India, don't miss visiting the museum.  When there, be sure to avail yourself of the informative audio guide.  It makes the experience even more pleasurable   

If India is of interest but a trip is not in the future, explore the National Museum's Web site as well as the National Museum's entry on Google Art Project.*  


A view from Victoria Peak, 
looking north over Central, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon (2011)
Photo:  Wikipedia Web site

Travelers often begin their journey to mainland China with a stop in Hong Kong.  In this city of dazzling vistas and prodigious shopping, the Hong Kong Museum of Art is commonly overlooked.  This is a misfortune since the museum benefits newcomers by offering a comprehensive introduction to China's arts. 

Hong Kong Museum of Art,  Main Entrance
Photo:  Hong Kong Extras Web site

Housed in a modern building in Hong Kong's main tourist area, the museum is easily accessed.   The collection, about 15,000 artworks, is neither large by some standards nor  filled with national treasures.  To give readers a comparison, the Shanghai Museum has more than 1,000,000 objects with at least 120,000 of significant cultural importance.  The Palace Museum in Beijing has in excess of 1,800,000 artifacts, of these approximately 1,600,000 are deemed historically valuable and nationally protected.

Large Bowl with Floral Scrolls Design in Underglaze Red,
Hongwu period (1368 - 1398), Ming dynasty
h.: 3.9, diameter of mouth: 8 in. (h.:10, diameter of mouth: 20.3 cm)
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons Web site**

The Hong Kong Museum of Art's size is not a disadvantage.  In contrast, the amount of objects presented does not overwhelm. Chinese antiquities are organized by material and displayed chronologically in separate galleries.  These include ceramics, bronzes, lacquerwares, costumes and furniture.  

Hong Kong Museum of Art, Education Corner
Hong Kong
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons Web site

Docent guided tours and audio guides are instructive and recommended. They impart just the right amount of information and help make the Hong Kong Museum of Art an opportune start to a Chinese adventure. 

*The National Museum, New Delhi, India, is part of Google Art Project.  Institutions belonging to the project put artworks online in high resolution images and, in some cases, a 360 degree tour of the institution's galleries.  To explore the National Museum, New Delhi, India, on Google Art Project, go to the Art Project's home page, main menu.  Click on "Collections" and type "New Delhi" in search area.  When the drop-down menu appears, click on "National Museum, Delhi."
**This work is in the public domain in the United States.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Unraveling The Mysteries Of The East (1)


Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Western tourists in Asia are confronted with a plethora of unfamiliar experiences.  Histories, arts and architecture present a newness that can easily overwhelm.  For the initial traveler, a wise move is to begin the journey with a visit to a national museum.  There for the taking are artifacts providing the neophyte with insights and knowledge.  A few examples will illustrate this point.*

The town of Siem Reap in Cambodia is the gateway to Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, the great temples and city of the ancient civilization of Khmer.  Situated northwest of 
Phnom Penh, the country's capital, Siem Reap lures while Phnom Penh with its neglected buildings and dilapidated infrastructure dissuades.  However, the National Museum of Cambodia is here which makes a stopover exceedingly worthwhile.  The museum is a treasury of Khmer artworks.  

Established during French protectorate, the National Museum's collection comprises works in stone, ceramic, metal and wood. Labels are in Khmer, French and English.  The installation generally follows chronological order displaying the evolution of Khmer art from prehistory through the classic Angkor Wat style, 1100 - 1175, and on to its subsequent decline.  


Gallery view, foreground center: fragmentary sculpture of Two Interlocked Wrestlers
c. 10th century, Koh Ker style, Preah Vihear, Angkor period, sandstone, 31.1 in. (79 cm);
 background center: Wrestling Apes, c. first half of 10th century, 
Koh Ser style, Preah Vihear, Angkor period, 
 sandstone, 9.4 ft. (2.87 m),
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Photo:  Hillary Ganton

Gallery view, right:  Jayavarman VII, Angkor Thom, Bayon style, 
Angkor period, c. late 12th - early 13th century, sandstone, 4.4 ft. (1.35 m),
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Photo:  Hillary Ganton

The museum makes the Angkor period's distinctive styles easy to comprehend.  For example, the monumentality and dynamic movement of the Koh Ker style contrasts with the  meditative, serene works of the later Bayon. In the latter, portraiture developed.  It became customary to depict royalty as Buddhist deities. King Jayavarman VII, a devout Buddhist, was often represented as the Buddha.  Sculptures of this king have astounding realism.  His inert stone form appears to breathe.  

Exploration of the National Museum of Cambodia's galleries turns a visit into a virtual survey course of Cambodian art, an excellent preparation for the wonders of Siem Reap.  Furthermore, the building's traditional Khmer-style architecture with its open galleries and central garden makes for a pleasant, relaxed experience.


Bangkok, Thailand
Photo:  Hillary Ganton

Arriving in Bangkok, visitors are usually shuttled between the city's many Buddhist monasteries and temples as well as the Grand Palace, official home of the king.  T
he National Museum Bangkok** is often missed.  Situated in a former palace complex, it's the largest museum in Southeast Asia.  


Bangkok, Thailand
Photo:  Hillary Ganton

The collection comprises not only Thai artifacts, but also works from other Asian cultures including India, China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Be prepared to spend the better part of a day here.  There are over half a dozen buildings filled with attention-grabing pieces.  The museum plan is easy to understand with images of the collection's highlights and their gallery locations clearly indicated.  


Head of Meditating Buddha, c. 7th - 8th century, 
Davaravati, found at Wat Phra Ngam, Nakhon Pathom province, 
 terracotta, 7.9 in. (20 cm), 
Bangkok, Thailand
Don't be surprised to find Buddhist devotees praying and making offerings in front of statues or reliquaries in Asian museums.  You may even be invited to participate.  In fact, the National Museum Bangkok contains the second most venerated Buddhist image in Thailand.


Seoul, Korea

The National Museum of Korea (NMK) is on a more modern note. The new building, opened in 2005, provides extensive facilities to learn about Korean culture and art.  The NMK is currently the sixth biggest museum in the world with over 12,000 objects on display. Years ago, the museum's ceramic collection alerted this writer to the glories of the Goryeo celadons and initiated what has become a life long interest.

 Celadon Jar with Four Lugs and Inlaid Cloud and Crane Design
Goryeo Dynasty (918-1352), celadon, 
h. 9.4, mouth d. 3.5, bottom d. 5 in. (h. 23.8, mouth d. 9.0, bottom d. 12.7 cm)
Seoul, Korea
Photo:  The National Museum of Korea Web site

The NMK has exhibition guided tours for foreigners and digital/audio guides for rent.    In addition, there is a PDF visitor guide for adults and a self-study one for children and teenagers. 

The museum is beautiful and well-lit.  It is quite massive so allocate time for viewing.  Without doubt, every visitor will find something that delights.

Honkan (Japanese Gallery), 
Tokyo, Japan

The Tokyo National Museum is made up of six main buildings and some five historical edifices situated in a garden setting.  It's Japan's oldest and most expansive museum with holdings of Japanese art unequaled anywhere.  Works from other countries such as China, Korea and India are also present.

Honkan, a 1932 building on the site of the original main gallery, is devoted to the Japanese collection. Chronological displays fill twenty-four rooms.  Special exhibitions highlight specific genres such as lacquerware or swords.  Many of the museum's pieces are National Treasures.

Cosmetic Box with Wheels in Flow, Heian period, 12th century, 
lacquered wood,  l. 8.8, w. 12, h. 5.3 in. (l. 22.4, w. 30.6, h. 13.5 cm)
National Treasure of Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Photo:  Kiritz Japan Web site

A word about National Treasures:  in Japan and other countries, mainly in Asia, a cultural property is designated as a National Treasure when it is deemed to have significant artistic, historical or intellectual value.  This qualifies the property for special preservation, conservation and restoration funding.  Export, transfer and alterations are restricted.  The system is a means to protect a country's patrimony.

Japan has a three-tiered classification:  Registered Cultural Property, Important Cultural Property and National Treasure.  Cultural Property levels have less obligations and benefits than the category of National Treasure.  An object selected for any one of the categories is a signal of worthiness.  Take note.

Two other museums, often overlooked, deserve mention.  Read about them in ArtWithHillary's October blog post.

*For those not planning an Asian trip but have a curiosity about the area, national museum Web sites present a wealth of learning opportunities.  
**I recommend Bangkoksite.com/nationalmuseum for information on the National Museum Bangkok.



Friday, August 29, 2014

Thinking About "The Thinker" And More

Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917), The Thinker,
modeled 1880-81, enlarged 1902-04; cast 1919, bronze,
79 x 51.25 × 55.25 in. (200.7 × 130.2 × 140.3 cm)
Rodin Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photo:  Rodin Museum Website

August Rodin's "The Thinker" seems to be everywhere.  Castings appear in various sizes, placed in museums and parks alike. The sculpture is part of the public's conscious, so familiar it's often passed by.  The origin forgotten or never known.

Sculptures of Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917), 
partial installation view,
B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery (Gallery 800)
Photo:  Hillary Ganton

The seated figure still attracts.  Witness the "must see" stop for tour groups.  Some attention to the work and the sculptor's achievement is in order.  

Tour Group in front of The Thinker* by Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917), 
B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery (Gallery 800)
Photo:  Hillary Ganton

The Thinker as well as many of Rodin's sculptures were created for the monumental doors entitled The Gates of Hell.  

Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917), The Gates of Hell,
modeled 1880 - 1917; cast 1926 - 28, bronze, 
20 ft. 10 3/4 in. x 13 ft. 2 in. x 33 3/8 in. (636.9 x 401.3 x 84.8 cm)
Rodin Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photo:  Rodin Museum Website

In 1880, the French government commissioned Rodin to devise the portal for a planned museum of decorative arts.  The imagery the sculptor chose was based on Dante's Divine Comedy, in particular the poem's first part, Inferno. It was Rodin's modern answer to the Gates of Paradise, Lorenzo Ghiberti's famous Renaissance doors on the Florence Baptistry.**    

Although the idea for the museum was abandoned by 1887, Rodin worked on the project until his death.  He used the door as a background for his evolving sculptural ideas, forming in clay and plaster a wrenching transformation of the human form.  

The Gates of Hell were never cast in bronze during the artist's lifetime. When Rodin died in 1917, only a plaster version existed.  This was left in pieces in the artist's studio.  Subsequently, the work was reconstructed by the first curator of the Musée Rodin.  The reassembled full-size plaster Gates of Hell now resides in the Musée d'Orsay which is located on the site intended for the proposed decorative arts museum.  Thus, the doors rest in the place originally envisioned.

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), The Gates of Hell
between 1880 and 1917, plaster,
20 ft. 10 in. x 13 ft. 1 1/2 in. x 3 ft. 1 13/32 in. ( 635 x 400 x 94 cm)
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / DR
Photo:  Musée d'Orsay Web site

There are over 180 figures on the portal.  The sense of movement and formation are the great triumphs of the doors.  Figures emerge and submerge from the watery background. They evolve and develop. Partial body parts express the whole. Fragments would become stand alone sculptures.  Forms are replicated.  Rodin's art is an art in flux, revolutionary for its time.  

The seated Thinker presides over the multifarious figures.  Considered a depiction of the poet Dante, he may be meditating or contemplating the tortured beings about him. The Three Shades, the same figure repeated three times on top of the entablature's midpoint, emphasize The Thinker's centrality.  Their bent bodies and extended arms lead the viewer below. They are the souls of the damned and, according to Dante's Divine Comedy, stand at the entrance to Hell. 

The Thinker was turned into an independent artwork in 1888.  Cast in numerous sizes, the sculpture became one of Rodin's most popular pieces.  Other Gates of Hell figures were also transferred into full-size, free-standing sculptures. Some transfigurations make The Gates ancestry difficult to trace.  Take a look at Rodin's The Martyr.

Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917), The Martyr,
modeled 1885, bronze, 
 61-1/2 in. (156.2 cm),
Photo:  Hillary Ganton

The autonomous work evolved from a standing figure on The Gates of Hell lintel.  She is to the left of The Thinker behind a squatting woman ***.  

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Lintel detail of The Gates of Hell
between 1880 and 1917, plaster,
Photo:  Artstor

Note the position of her torso with its splayed breasts. Her right leg with its foot turned inward (slightly off the lintel's edge) offers little stability.  In 1885, The Gates small lintel figure was realized as an independent, almost life-size bronze sculpture. 

Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917), Detail of The Martyr,
modeled 1885, bronze, 
 61-1/2 in. (156.2 cm.),
Photo:  Hillary Ganton

The same figure made another appearance in the form of the goddess Fortune on The Gates lower left door panel.

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Left door panel detail of The Gates of Hell
between 1880 and 1917, plaster,
Photo:  Artstor

Here, she is winged, a horizontal recumbent on a tomb-like structure. A veil across her eyes prevents her from seeing.  Her right hand holds a spoked wheel.  The veil and wheel are Fortune's attributes. The latter indicative of  the cycles of fate and the former alluding to the unpredictability of fortune - those that do not deserve good luck, sometimes get it.  

The Martyr figure reappears in 1895 as the fallen Icarus in Rodin's sculpture The Fall of Icarus.  Here she plunges head first, her nose touching the ground.   In 1911, she is found again upright rendered in relief on a white marble cemetery monument called Le Lys brisé.  

Rodin used live models for his work.  The Martyr model must have been low-lying on her back when he formed her in clay.  The positioning of the breasts, flaccid tissue spread wide apart, would not be possible on a standing woman. Thus, when the figure was released from The Gates and made independent, she was restored to her original supine pose.  Rodin meant her to be seen from above.  He gave her a low, flattened platform.  At the time, such a placement would have astounded if not perplexed viewers.  Figurative representations were seen standing or seated not sprawled on the ground.  Rodin's figure spills over her perch, entering the spectator's space.  This is not art on a high, untouchable pedestal. 

With her head dropping backward one way, chin raised in opposition, arms spread apart and legs awkwardly posed, she appears as a woman who suffered a violent death or a woman in sexual ecstasy.  As such, she seems the progenitor of  Alberto Giacometti's Woman with Her Throat Cut - a female abstraction of rapture or pain.  The lineage is there.

Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966), Woman with Her Throat Cut,
1932 (cast 1949), bronze,
8 x 34 1/2 x 25 in. (20.3 x 87.6 x 63.5 cm)
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Photo:  Museum of Modern Art Web site

Giacometti studied with the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle who had been Rodin's assistant from 1893 until 1909.   

Rodin's distortion and breakdown of the human form, his replications and revolutionary position of sculptures influenced future generations. Although he depleted parts of the whole - a hand, arm or torso - his work remains recognizable.  Human qualities prevail.  His achievements made possible much of modern arts's representational freedom.

You can see Rodin in the background of Carl Andre's creations made of duplicated forms positioned on the floor or Joel Shapiro's movement filled constructions.

Carl Andre (born 1935), 144 Lead Square, 1969,
lead, 144 units, overall 3/8 in. x 12 ft. x 12 ft.  (1 x 367.8 x 367.8 cm)
Photo:  Museum of Modern Art Web site

Joel Shapiro (born 1941), 1982, cedar, two views of Untitled,
46 1/4 x 48 x 48 1/4 in. (117.4 x 122 x 122.5 cm)
Photo:  Museum of Modern Art Web site

Think of Louise Bourgeois's totemic wood sculptures, David Smith's Forgings or Kiki Smith's hanging body parts and female nudes, especially her crouching Lilith.  There are others.   Rodin led the way.

Some 50 sculptures of the master are located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Gallery 800.  If you have not been, go.  If you have,  go again.

*Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917), The Thinker, bronze, first modeled probably in 1880, this bronze cast ca. 1910, h. 27 5/8 in. (70.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

**The original East Doors of the Baptistery of San Giovanni, Florence, Italy are in the Museo delle Opere del Duomo.  The East doors presently on the Florence Baptistery are replicas.
Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455),
Gates of Paradise, 1425-1452, gilt bronze
East Doors of the Baptistery of San Giovanni,
Florence, Italy, gilt bronze,
approx. 18 ft. (548.64 cm), each panel approx.  31 1/2 in. (800.1 cm)
© Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence
Museo delle Opere del Duomo, Florence, Italy 
Photo: Tuscan Traveler

***This figure became the independent sculpture known as The Crouching Woman.









Friday, July 18, 2014

If you think you have seen enough Picassos...

you are wrong.

Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Science and Charity, 1897,
oil on canvas, 77.6 x 98.2 in. (197 x 249.5 cm),
Museu Picasso, Barcelona
Photo:  WikiArt

Just when you think you have seen enough Picassos, the painter astounds.  Such was the case for this viewer on a recent trip to Barcelona.  

I assessed no need to return to the city's Museu Picasso since I had been there two or three times in the past.  However, the museum's lovely buildings enticed.  Five smartly connected grand townhouses built between the 13th and 15th centuries offer a spacious, relaxed venue to look at art.  I thought, just a few hours.  Two afternoons later, amazed by the artist's fecundity and youthful brilliance, I want to go back.  

The collection is made up of over 4,000 works - paintings, drawings, prints and ceramics. Renown for its comprehensive holdings from the Picasso's early (1890 - 1897) and training period (1897 - 1901), the museum also includes significant works from the artist's Blue Period (1901 - 1904), his 1917 residency in Barcelona, and the complete 1957 Las Meninas painting series.


Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Portrait of Aunt Pepa,
June - July 1896, oil on canvas, 
22.6 x 19.9 in. (57.5 x 50.5 cm),
Museu Picasso, Barcelona

The pieces on view, installed chronologically with few exceptions, clearly show how Picasso's genius manifested at an exceptionally early age. The artist is said to have sketched before he could talk.  At seven he took lessons from his father, an academic painter and instructor.  By nine, he was making masterly works.

Paintings and drawings from the artist's teens are executed with a virtuosity that belie the artist's age.  Panels of small oil landscapes capture the light and essence of the countryside. Portraits are preternatural in their psychological penetration.


Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Portrait of Aunt Pepa seated in an armchair,
 1895, graphite pencil on paper
4.7 x 3.2 in. (12 x 8.1 cm),
Museu Picasso, Barcelona

The image of  his paternal Aunt Pepa is a case in point.  Created when Picasso was fifteen, the portrait pulsates with life and imparts a powerful sense of the sitter's personality.  A year before, at age fourteen, the artist sketched his aunt seated in an armchair.  The drawing, from an 36-page album of sketches, like the subsequent painting, distinctly evokes the aunt's character.  


Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), First Communion, 1896,
oil on canvas, 65.4 x 46.5 in. (166 x 118 cm),
Museu Picasso, Barcelona
Photo:  WikiArt

First Communion and Science and Charity mark a turning point in Picasso's career.  Impressive in their narrative content, these works exhibit extraordinary technical skill and a sophisticated handling of composition and color.  The spectator is drawn into the scenes by compositional diagonals. Viewers become attendees at that which is taking place.  Colors have depth and richness.  In First Communion, the white of the communicant's dress  is filled with pale hues of blue, gold and pink.  Browns, blues, pinks, yellows and whites activate the walls of Science and Charity. The paintings are formidable achievements for an artist of any age; astounding for a teen of 15 and 16 years.  They brought the artist much acclaim.


Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Las MeninasAugust 17, 1957,
oil on canvas, 76 in × 100 in. (194 × 260  cm),
Museu Picasso, Barcelona
Photo:  Wikipedia 

Although successful in the then popular realistic style, Picasso quickly abandoned it.  He wanted to pursue painting that was not done before. Again and again, he would abandon his achievements and seek something else, a new way of seeing.  This pursuit is particularly evident in the three galleries devoted to works from the artist's Las Meninas series.  Here are placed side by side studies completed in the same day and those done one day after the next.  

From August to December 1957, Picasso undertook a thorough analysis of Las Meninas, the seminal painting by the seventeenth-century artist Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez.*  

In 5 months, Picasso produced 58 works: 44 deal directly with the Velázquez's masterpiece; 9 involve representations of pigeons which the artist saw from his studio's window; 3 are landscapes; 1 is a portrait of his wife Jacqueline; and 1 is a painting predominated by a piano and its player (The Piano).


Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Las Meninas, September 4, 1957,
oil on canvas, 18.1 x 14.8 in. (46 x 37.5 cm),
Museu Picasso, Barcelona
Photo:  WikiArt

Paintings in the series are hung in such a way Picasso's exploration of Velázquez's work becomes palpable.  On this writer's visit, an oil completed on September 18 was paired with one completed on September 19.  A painting from October 2 was next to one from October 3.  Beside each other were four paintings from October 24.  Six from November 17 formed a group on another wall.  Confronted with the artist's outpouring of creativity, viewing becomes an intoxicating experience.


Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Las Meninas, November 15, 1957,
oil on canvas, 51.2 x 37.8 in. (130 x 96 cm),
The Museu Picasso also highlights an aspect of Picasso traditionally overlooked.  This is the artist's long-term friendship with Jaume Sabartés (1881 - 1968).  The museum's very existence may be attributed to this man.


Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Blue portrait of Jaume Sabartés, 1901,
oil on canvas, 18.1 x 15.0 in. (46 x 38 cm),
Museu Picasso, Barcelona
Photo: Museu Picasso Web site 


Sabartés was an artist and writer of prose and poetry.  He met Picasso in 1899 and became part of the painter's artistic circle in Barcelona and later Paris.  Always an enthusiastic supporter of Picasso's work, he wrote about the artist's life and art. 

In 1935, he became Picasso's personal Secretary. Twenty-five years later, Sabartés initiated the founding of a museum devoted to Picasso. In 1963 the museum opened.  At the time, its holdings were primarily made up of Sabartés's personal Picasso collection.  In fact, the museum at first was named, the Sabartés Collection. 

From the year they met, throughout his life, Picasso drew, sketched and painted his friend.  A number of these portraits may be seen at the museum.  They attest to the closeness of the two men and reveal a Picasso who delights in the intimacy of a lasting, close relationship.

Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Portrait of Jaume Sabartés and the actress Esther Williams, 
23 May 1957, colored grease pencils on magazine printed paper
14.0 x 10.4 in. (35.6 x 26.5 cm),

My experience of revisiting the Museu Picasso made me remember a viewing truth: when the opportunity presents itself to see works by a great artist, don't miss it.  

*See image below for reference.
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez ( 1599-1660), 
Las Meninas1656, oil on canvas, 
125.2 × 108.7 in. (318 × 276  cm)
Photo:  Wikipedia