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AGO to Present Major Exhibition of Picasso Works in 2012

Canadian-exclusive exhibition features highlights from the artist’s own collection, spans his 75-year career

(TORONTO – July 25, 2011) In 2012, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will present a major survey of masterworks by the most inventive and influential artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris features more than 150 highlights from the Musée’s unparalleled collection, including paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. The exhibition will be on view at the AGO from May 1 through August 26, 2012.

The collection of the Musée National Picasso, Paris comprises more than 5,000 works that Picasso kept for himself and his family over the course of his career, ranging from informal sketchbooks to iconic masterpieces. Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris features is touring the world while the Musée undergoes a multi-year renovation, scheduled for completion in 2012.

“Presenting Picasso masterpieces to Canadian audiences is a major accolade for our country and the Province of Ontario,” said President of the AGO Board of Trustees Tony Gagliano. “The AGO is most proud to host these artworks and honoured to provide the opportunity to experience one of the art world’s greatest masters.”

The AGO is the sole Canadian and final venue on the tour, which includes stops in Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, Helsinki, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Seattle, Richmond, San Francisco and Sydney.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Canadian audiences to view major works by Picasso, drawn from the world’s most comprehensive collection of his artwork,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO. “With Abstract Expressionist New York, this fall’s Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde, and now Picasso, AGO members and visitors have the chance to take an incredible, year-long journey through some of the most thrilling and significant moments and masterpieces of 20th-century art.”

Exhibited chronologically and covering virtually every phase of the modern master’s unceasingly radical and diverse career, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris features:

  • The Death of Casagemas, one of the first works he created in Paris in 1901;
  • Autoportrait (Self-Portrait), the iconic 1906 self-portrait;
  • the 1904 Blue-period masterpiece Celestina (The Woman with One-Eye), and The Two Brothers, a 1906 work from his Rose period;
  • landmark African-inspired artwork that led to the advent of Cubism, including studies for the 1907 masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Three Figures Beneath a Tree, 1907-08;
  • examples of his genre-defining Analytic and Synthetic Cubism artworks, including the 1909-10 Sacré Coeur, 1911’s seminal Man with a Guitar and 1915’s Violin;
  • Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race), a 1922 masterwork from his Neoclassical period, and 1925’s The Kiss, from his Surrealist period;
  • a series of sculptures created during the Second World War, including 1942’s Bull’s Head, and two bronzes, 1943’s Death’s Head and 1950’s The Goat;
  • The Bathers, the 1956 life-sized, six-piece figurative sculpture series created during a summer in Cannes; and
  • The Matador, the famous self-portrait painted in 1970, three years before his death.

The exhibition also highlights Picasso’s depictions of his numerous muses and mistresses, including 1918’s Portrait of Olga in an Armchair, which features the Russian ballerina and Picasso’s first wife seated on a Spanish tapestry, the background left purposefully unfinished. French surrealist photographer Dora Maar, who inspired his 1937 “Weeping Woman” series, is also prominently featured, as is Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife and most-painted muse, depicted in the 1954 work Jacqueline with Crossed Hands.

“A dialogue about Picasso and his extraordinary career started at the AGO with the ground- breaking exhibition Picasso and Man in 1964,” says Anne Baldassari, chairman and chief curator of collections of the Musée National Picasso, Paris. “Now, the conversation continues with Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, an exhibition presenting a magnificent collection of the artist’s work, giving Toronto audiences a true understanding of the artist’s inventive and transformative legacy.”

AGO members will be invited to an exclusive advance preview of Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris in the days leading up to the exhibition’s public opening. As with Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from The Museum of Modern Art and Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, AGO Members receive free admission and VIP access to the exhibition, among other discounts and benefits. More information on AGO membership can be found at

A 296-page catalogue has been published to accompany the exhibition. Edited by Anne Baldassari, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris includes 194 illustrations and will be available for purchase at shopAGO.

Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris is curated by Anne Baldassari, chairman and chief curator of collections of the Musée National Picasso, Paris. Elizabeth Smith, the AGO’s executive director of curatorial affairs, will oversee the exhibition’s installation at the AGO. The exhibition is co-organized by the Musée National Picasso, Paris and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris is generously supported by
Lead Sponsor BMO Financial Group.

Additional support is provided by Air Canada, Official Airline for the exhibition.


For images and more information, please contact:

Andrea-Jo Wilson, 416-979-6660 ext. 403,
Meagan Campbell, 416-979-6660 ext. 372,
Caitlin Coull, 416-979-6660 ext. 364,

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