Exhibit Theme: "PICASSO'S WOMEN"

Where: W Hotel San Francisco
181 3rd St., San Francisco,
next door to the SFMOMA

When: June 8-17, 2007, 12-7 PM daily
Open to the Public

Lecture on Thursday, June 14, 7-8 PM:
“The Art of Collecting Picasso”
(RSVP for the lecture to RSVPWSFevents@whotels.com)

Nightly Spanish wine tasting, 6-7 PM (RSVP)



If you would like to do your homework in preparation for the lecture, take the following...


1. “Picasso has probably made more bad pictures than any other serious artist in history. ” - Bill Rubin, MOMA

Which Picasso bullfight print below is "good" and which is "bad"? (Note: both are original prints.)



  or b.


2. Which of these Picassos is real?


or b.

3. Which of these Picassos is real?

(Hint: the copy is hanging in the currently traveling "Picasso and American Art" exhibit: Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, to the Walter Art Center, Minneapolis.)



or b.

4. Which of these is Picasso's "greatest" print?

(Hint: this is a trick question....)



or b.


If you’re interested in a thematic preview of the exhibit, keep reading….


Picasso’s art is multilayered with meaning, one of the reasons he is considered the intellectual’s artist.  A case in point is a late etching in our exhibit, In the Sculptor’s Studio (shown above), a particularly fitting example, as it ties in with the spring show at the SFMOMA, ‘Picasso and American Art’. On its surface, this etching is a humorous look at the aging artist at work.  Yet it is also a wry commentary on the abstract American art of the Sixties, and at the same time a riff on centuries-old art, as well as a reprise of Picasso’s own series of prints with which he illustrated a novel some three decades earlier. In this etching we see a sculptor at work, his model, and two spectators.  Typically, Picasso has portrayed not just the model but also his entire cast of characters in the nude, invoking a mythical paradise when attire was not yet needed or conventional.  The model, having unselfconsciously assumed a wholly immodest pose, is depicted tenderly and gracefully. The aged sculptor, limply hinting at the sexual impotence that marked Picasso's waning years, is intently creating an abstract work of art that doesn't resemble the model in the least. As one onlooker strains to see the work in progress over the artist's shoulder, the other is interested not so much in the sculpture as in the winsome model, upon whom he brazenly stares.  This etching is reminiscent of Balzac’s The Unknown Masterpiece, which tells the story of Frenhofer, a 17th Century artist driven mad in the pursuit of perfection while painting the portrait of his model. After sequestering himself for ten years in this effort, his friends discovered that the model had been reduced in his hands into an incomprehensible abstraction. Misunderstood by his friends, the artist destroyed his canvases and died in shame. 

That wouldn’t have happened today.  By the time Picasso revisited this theme in the Sixties, the art world had already changed considerably. Unlike Frenhofer's friends, who had just pitied him, the spectators in the modern sculptor's studio are awestruck by the abstract sculpture, at least when not distracted by the nude. By the Sixties, abstract art had become mainstream and thus would have been a perfect target for Picasso's expansive humor. Although Picasso had occasionally approached abstraction, he generally avoided it in favor of styles that highlighted his graphic mastery. He certainly would have considered abstract art fair game.

Though my wife Casey’s and my collection today is weighted more toward Picasso paintings and drawings, at least in value if not in number of pieces, in the W Hotel we will be exhibiting a selection of our original Picasso prints, with the balance of our inventory represented photographically. Original prints, such as etchings, lithographs, and linoleum cuts, are the entry level for most Picasso fine art collectors.  Original prints are also typically the level where the collectors remain, given the relative unaffordability of good Picasso drawings and paintings.  Yet the world of original Picasso prints, works of art made by Picasso’s own hand, is a treasure trove so vast and varied that there is more than enough to satisfy most Picasso collectors.

“Picasso’s Women” is an appropriate theme for the exhibit, given that they were by far the artist’s favorite subjects.  Despite whatever has been said, true or sensationalized, about his stormy relationships with them, his women certainly achieved immortality in his art, whether he portrayed them lovingly in a ‘pretty’ manner or distorted their faces in innumerable ways, according to the dictates of his incredibly numerous styles. Those stylistic distortions assumed famously fantastical shapes, yet somehow still preserved the recognizable essence of his subjects’ facial features, but one of Picasso’s many magical feats.

The onset of each new long-term relationship with his consorts and wives paralleled a radical change of style in Picasso’s work, or, rather, changes of styles, as he usually worked in multiple styles at once. To some extent the waxing and waning of these relationships was reflected in the “prettiness” or grotesqueness of the accompanying portraits, though in general the portraiture was driven more by his restless, protean artistic vision.  This exhibition will provide stunning, representative examples of many of his distinctive styles as it follows the succession of his paramours. 

The second focus of the exhibit will be to instruct any interested patrons in the field of original Picassos and to guide them if they wish to navigate the complex decision-making involved in the acquisition his prints, drawings, or paintings.  To this end, I will provide lectures and tours of the exhibit, coupled with cocktail parties and dinners hosted by the W. In addition to viewing beautiful art, attendants of the exhibit and/or the lectures will leave with a clear understanding of the basic term “original prints” as well as some of some of the pitfalls involved in collecting them. This exhibit provides an opportunity for Picasso collectors to get to know us, and an opportunity for other Picasso lovers to refine their collecting instincts. 

This is a great time to be collecting original Picassos.  Only three decades or so since Picasso’s death, many of his works have not yet made their way into museum collections and are still available to beautify our private spaces and to enrich our daily lives.  The prices of his work continue to appreciate dramatically, as they did throughout his life, and to set the benchmarks for the fine art market at large.  Picasso, clearly the “bluest” of the blue chip artists in the market, is presumably the most rewarding artist in which to invest, for sustenance of both soul and savings.

The third purpose of the exhibit is a charity fundraiser.  To this end, we will donate a percentage of all sales to YouthAIDS, a very worthy HIV/AIDS education and prevention initiative with involvement in more than 60 mostly third-world countries across the globe.  Its programs offer “creative interventions appropriate to the specific health needs and cultural setting of each country.”

See you there!

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