Picasso in The Met

Picasso in The Met

Mark Chamberlain
Jun 8, 2010

It's summer blockbuster season again. What is summer without a show of something by perennial favorite Pablo Picasso? The Met empties out its closets for this modest offering, and if you had an oeuvre as wide and deep as Picasso's, you'd be having summer shows each year too.

Picasso is different things to different people—analytic cubist, synthetic cubist, Rose Period, Blue Period, sculptor, misogynist. I, for one, never tire of his relentless innovations, and styles or brush strokes never settle into one thing on one canvas, let alone in one period of his career. Whenever my well runs dry, I run to Picasso for inspiration, and always come away with something simple and direct.

The Met's offering is a survey of its own Picasso holdings, and runs from early masterpieces like "Gertrude Stein" to mid-size portraits to erotic curios to a flock of etchings and prints. Look not for you favorite pieces from European museums--this is a lean show for lean times, but nonetheless fulfills its mission as summer fun.

Farrow & Ball provides the paints for the galleries. I've written elsewhere about painting galleries anything other than white. I think I came here thinking "cubist walls," by which, I think I thought black, turquoise and red, or something sharp. Instead, the curators picked up on Picasso's simplicity—a classical palette of sometimes three colors such as Payne's grey, burnt sienna and white, and matched his tenor. Some of my favorite works of his are the nudes on the beach, figures in grisaille over a cerulean sky, so why would wall colors need to be anything more complicated than that?

Galleries are painted in a variety of soft greys, with two-toned walls to shrink the scale of the room for the prints hung salon style. As always, Farrow & Ball's restricted palette of 132 colors never fails to run out of options.

PAINT USED IN THE GALLERIES:

By Farrow & Ball

Old White 4
Pigeon 25
Bone 15
French Gray 18
Light Gray 17
Clunch 2009
Blue Gray 91

MORE INFO: Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 27–August 1, 2010

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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