With the aim of attracting a big audience, no doubt to compete with the hoopla surrounding the debut of the Whitney Museum's new building downtown, the Museum of Modern Art has announced a major Picasso sculpture show to open this fall. The museum's director Glenn Lowry, and the exhibition's organizers—Ann Temkin, chief curator of painting and sculpture, and curator Anne Umland—recently called members of the press to the museum to discuss "Picasso Sculpture," an exhibition of some 150 works by the perennial crowd favorite, which debuts Sept. 14, 2015, and runs through Feb. 7, 2016.
A collaborative effort with the Musée National Picasso, Paris, the MoMA show will be the first comprehensive Picasso sculpture survey in the United States since a 1967 exhibition at the museum. According to the curators, the show emphasizes Picasso's innovative processes and use of unconventional materials in his three-dimensional works. Arranged chronologically, the exhibition explores the special place they hold in Picasso's oeuvre, their biographical significance and relationship to his concurrent two-dimensional pieces. The sculptures were very personal to the artist, and he rarely exhibited them during his lifetime. Artist friends who saw the works in his studio found them astonishing and inspiring; they have subsequently influenced generations of artists, and continue to do so today.
The exhibition will feature key works from MoMA's own extensive holdings, as well as loans from international private and public collections. On view will be some iconic pieces, such as Head of Fernande (1909), a Cubist bronze from the Art Institute of Chicago, plus all six variations of Glass of Absinthe (1914) gathered together for the first time. Picasso's famous Bull's Head (1942), a bronze cast of a bicycle seat and handlebars, will be included, as well as the Spanish maestro's celebrated war-time symbol of peace, Man with a Lamb (1943-44). Also highlighted will be a number of rarely exhibited works, such as a totemic wood carving, Figure (1907), made in a style reminiscent of Gauguin's wood sculptures.
"We've been amazed by the number of ‘yeses'" Temkin told A.i.A., when asked if there had been any difficulties in securing loans of important works for the exhibition. "There were certain pieces we considered for the show, such as the original plaster for Little Girl Skipping Rope (1950) in the collection of the Musée National Picasso. But because of its fragility, we wouldn't dare ask."