Well, I finally got around to getting my first look at “Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris” at the Seattle Art Museum.

I won’t pretend that I was ever Picasso’s number one fan. Even though I value his contributions as a pioneer, can’t help but be impressed by his output, and found seeing Guernica in the building made specifically for it at the Prado in Madrid… amazing… Okay so maybe I do like the man’s work more than a bit but I digress.

The exhibit consists of the artist’s personal collection with samples of his entire career.

I won’t be going into this in any great depth here today as there was a fairly good crowd and was pretty much there with the intent to go through to get a general feel of the exhibit. I intend to focus on individual pieces over the next month until the exhibit ends on January 17th.

The exhibit consists of samples from the artist’s personal collection. Many of them clearly meant to never see the light of day. Everything is set up in chronological order and because of this we are allowed to see the development of the artist; the initial exercises, experiments and half completed works where he was trying to beat out a particular idea which would work magnificently in the next and final piece.

Speaking as a former art student, I was fascinated by the several works that looked like the dozens of pieces me, and millions of other art students, cranked out by the bushel each semester, but at the same time you can see them as notes in the process toward the final ideas. Along with this we see him learning his craft and studying other artists, my favorite example of this being the one pastel piece in the exhibit, Village Dance that was clearly emulating the style of Renoir.

But what interested me the most was what these pieces told us about the artist’s thought process. This was best realized in samples of some of the concept sketches for Guernica. Many of these were even more primal and raw than the final details in the finished painting.

It’s interesting in many of these exhibits it’s easy to find certain themes and the evolution of certain styles. In the case of Picasso it was occasionally difficult to believe that this was all by the same artist. There were so many different extremes from intricately detailed etching, like in the “Frugal Repast”, to abstract sculpture that, if I didn’t know any better, almost reminded me of the work of Dave Mckean.

If there was anything that I regarded as a signature look, it was a certain profile that very much reminded me of frescoes in early Achaean art. While it was at it’s most obvious in the early realistic works but I could also see it in many of the more abstract pieces culminating in the last gallery with the painting, The Kiss.

All in all, along with showing fantastic paintings this exhibit provided a wonderful documentation of a creative journey, which I look forward to studying in much more detail.