Guide Tour of Musée National Picasso, Paris, France

The Picasso Museum is the French national museum dedicated to the life and work of Pablo Picasso and the artists who were linked to him. The museum collection includes more than 5,000 works of art (paintings, sculptures, drawings, ceramics, prints, engravings and notebooks) and tens of thousands of archived pieces from Picasso’s personal repository, including the artist’s photographic archive, personal papers, correspondence, and author manuscripts.

The Musée Picasso is an art gallery located in the Hôtel Salé in rue de Thorigny, in the Marais district of Paris, France. The Picasso Museum opened in Paris in 1985 with a total of 228 paintings, 149 sculptures, and nearly 3,100 drawings and engravings. The building underwent extensive renovations prior to the museum’s opening, and in 2009 it closed for a major expansion, and the museum reopen in 2014.

The museum located within the entirely renovated Hotel Salé, erected in the 17th century and classified as a historic monument. The majestic grand staircase, richly adorned with sculptures. Today, there are 1,600 square meters of exhibition space over five levels. The museum has 22 rooms which offer a true architectural promenade. The furniture, designed specifically for the museum, is by Diego Giacometti.

The Musée national Picasso-Paris preserves the largest collection of works by Pablo Picasso in the world. Through its quality, its breadth and the diversity of the artistic fields represented, its collection and the temporary exhibitions presented, Picasso’s entire work, painted, sculpted, engraved and drawn, as well as the evocation of the artist’s creative process, can be seen through.

Major pieces from different periods, such as “Self-Portrait” from 1901, which marked the beginning of his Blue Period, or the “Portrait of Dora Maar”, (1937) are presented alongside sculptures, sketches or ceramics. The artist’s oeuvre is associated with a didactic presentation of his creative process. The display alternates a chronological presentation (Blue Period, Cubism …) with thematic rooms (women, the bull…) which makes it possible to translate the creative profusion of this extraordinary artist.

The museum even occupies the attic, which houses Picasso’s personal collection of paintings – rich with tens of thousands of archival documents, including paintings by Matisse, Miró and Braque – in an intimate atmosphere under magnificent wooden beams. Specific confrontations or thematic rooms around primitivism, landscape painting and portraiture guide this display.

Many of Picasso’s larger sculptures gracing the outdoor gardens. The vaulted basement where photographs of the painter, by Brassaï and Dora Maar, alternate with emblematic works (“The Acrobat,” “Painter and his Model”…) providing a shortcut through Picasso’s entire oeuvre. In fine weather, you will appreciate a unique view over the beautiful mansion from the lovely terrace of the rooftop Café sur le Toit, located on the first floor.

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a naturalistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th century, his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. After 1906, the Fauvist work of the slightly older artist Henri Matisse motivated Picasso to explore more radical styles, beginning a fruitful rivalry between the two artists, who subsequently were often paired by critics as the leaders of modern art.

Picasso’s work is often categorized into periods. While the names of many of his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in his work are the Blue Period (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1904–1906), the African-influenced Period (1907–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), also referred to as the Crystal period.

Much of Picasso’s work of the late 1910s and early 1920s is in a neoclassical style, and his work in the mid-1920s often has characteristics of Surrealism. His later work often combines elements of his earlier styles. Exceptionally prolific throughout the course of his long life, Picasso achieved universal renown and immense fortune for his revolutionary artistic accomplishments, and became one of the best-known figures in 20th-century art.

The Buliding
The Hôtel Salé is probably the largest, the most extraordinary, not to say extravagant of the grand Parisian hotels of the 17th century. The Hotel Salé was built by Pierre Aubert de Fontenay, alongside another famous ambitious construction, that of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte by Nicolas Fouquet.

Pierre Aubert is a protege of Fouquet. Having managed to make a fortune in the years 1630-1640, he is now an important financier in Paris, adviser and secretary to the king. The future owner of the Hotel Salé is therefore a “bourgeois gentleman” seeking to promote his recent social advancement. For this, he chose a district that was not yet saturated with buildings, and whose construction Henri IV wanted to encourage, in particular by building the Place Royale (now Place des Vosges).

In 1659, the construction work was completed and Pierre Aubert was able to move into his new hotel. The sculpted decoration, including the sumptuous one of the main staircase, was entrusted to the brothers Gaspard and Balthazar Marsy and to Martin Desjardins.

The Hôtel Salé is a typical example of Mazarine architecture, marked by a profound renewal of architectural forms, under the impetus of new sponsors such as Pierre Aubert – or Nicolas Lambert who a few years earlier commissioned his hotel in Louis Le Vau. Italian Baroque, introduced by Cardinal Mazarin, is in vogue and leads architects to imagine new volumes, which they combine with the heritage of François Mansart.

Thus, the Hôtel Salé has a double main building and a double row of rooms, an innovation that allows the expansion of the surface. Its plan is asymmetrical: the courtyard facade is divided in two by a perpendicular wing which separates the main courtyard from the lower courtyard. The court itself translates the innovations of the time: it forms part of a taut curve that energizes the facade. The latter is punctuated by seven opening bays which highlight the central avant-corps on three levels.

The porch opens onto a slightly oval semicircular courtyard bordered by low wings surmounted by a terraced roof crowned with a stone balustrade. The left side is only a trompe-l’oeil construction. The passage in the right wing gives access to a small courtyard, which once housed the stables and kitchens, leading directly to rue des Coutures-Saint-Gervais. A corridor then directly connected the kitchens and the central body of the house.

The main facade, comprising a floor and an attic above the ground floor, has a three-bay avant-corps, crowned with a pediment sculpted with the arms of Aubert (dogs’ heads), and a second avant-corps. body, with a single central span. On the garden side, the facade is the largest in the Marais.

The main building, doubled in depth to create a row on the courtyard side and on the garden side, subsequently allows the installation of a carved staircase. Several artists will contribute to the decor of the hotel, including Claude Buirette for the paneling and joinery, his son Jacques, the Marsy brothers and Martin Desjardins.

The pediment of the small avant-corps, classic, refers to Mansart; above him, the huge pediment with an emblazoned motif adorned with acanthus, fruit and flowers, looks towards the Baroque. The abundance of sculpted decoration (Sphinxes and Cupids) also marks the overall Baroque character of the facade. The one on the garden is more sober.

Finally, the grand staircase is the masterpiece of the house. It takes up the system of Michelangelo’s staircase at the Laurentian Library in Florence. No closed cage, but two flights of steps, imperial, overhung by a projecting balcony and then by a gallery. Multiplying the effects of perspective, the plunging views, the staircase is a theater. As for the sculpted stucco decoration, it has been described as “a sort of plastic translation of the paintings of Hannibal Carracci at the Farnese Gallery” (Jean-Pierre Babelon): eagles holding thunderbolts, genies with garlands, Corinthian pilasters, divinities various make the eye swirl.

The Museum
The National Picasso Museum was inaugurated in October 1985. There are a few rooms with thematic presentations, but the museum largely follows a chronological sequence, displaying painting, drawings, sculptures and prints. Other items include photographs, manuscripts, newspaper clippings and photographs to provide additional contextual information. The second floor has a special area set aside for temporary exhibitions and prints. The third floor contains the library, the documentation and archives department (reserved for research), and the curator’s offices.

The collection of the Picasso Museum in Paris has more than 5,000 works, and more than two hundred thousand archive pieces. By its quality, its scope and the diversity of the artistic fields represented, it is the only public collection in the world which allows both a crossing of all the painted, sculpted, engraved and drawn works of Picasso, as well as the precise evocation of the artist’s creative process.

Upon his death, Picasso left about 40,000 works in his various properties. The heirs brought, initially, by the procedure of giving in payment, 203 paintings, 158 sculptures, 16 glued papers, 29 relief paintings, 88 ceramics, 1500 drawings, 1600 engravings and manuscripts.

Picasso’s personal collection, which he had formed during his life by collecting works from his friends (Braque, Matisse, Miró, Derain…), from masters he admired (Cézanne, Le Douanier Rousseau, Degas, Le Nain …) and early works, had been donated to the French State in 1978 to be presented at the Louvre Museum. It naturally joined the collection of the Picasso Museum.

In 1990, four years after the death of Picasso’s wife Jacqueline Roque, the museum received a new donation. 47 paintings, 2 sculptures, around forty drawings, ceramics, engravings, thus enrich and complete the initial collection. Finally, in 1992, Picasso’s personal archives were donated to the state. With their thousands of documents and photographs, which cover the entire life of Picasso, they contribute to making the Picasso Museum the main center for the study of the life and work of the artist.

The entire history of the artist’s painted work is traced in the collection of the Musée Picasso Paris thanks to the nearly 300 paintings that make it up today. From the “Self-portrait” and “La Célestine” of the blue period to the “Baisers”, “Grands Nus”, “Matadors et Musiciens” of the final years, the main periods of Picasso’s work are represented there. Thus, the important preparatory canvases for the “Demoiselles d’Avignon”, the “Still life with a caned chair” of 1912 (the first collage of modern art), the great paintings of cubism “Man with a guitar” and “Man à la mandoline”, 1911-1913, from the exceptional series of assemblages, papiers collés and constructions from the cubist period (1912 to 1916), the great classic “machines” of “Women at the fountain” or “La Pan flute “,

When it opened in 1985, the Picasso Museum presented an exceptional collection of sculptures, ceramics and objects that had long remained inaccessible in Picasso’s various studios. Around 350 three-dimensional works make up the artist’s most comprehensive collection of volume pieces, including many rare pieces such as relief paintings and Cubist constructions.

It contains almost all of the sculpted work of the artist in a true laboratory of his pictorial art: wood and proto-cubist bronzes (1906-1909), cubist constructions (1913-1916), models in wired metal such as the “Project for a Monument to Apollinaire” (1928), the series of large plaster casts of the “Heads of Boisgeloup” (1930), the emblematic figures of “Woman in the Garden” (1930), “Head of a Bull” (1939-1943), “Man with Sheep” (1943), montages and layers of “Little Girl jumping rope” (1950), “La Chèvre” (1950) or “La Guenon et son petit” (1952) or the revolutionary cut sheets of the 1960s. So many essential milestones in Picasso’s sculpted work.

Graphic Work
In Picasso’s studios, paper has known various states: drawn, of course, but also glued, torn, mounted in volume, always worked on and rarely abandoned. More than 3900 numbers have been listed in its reservoir of iconographic memories, graphic and historical gestures, scaffolding escaping towards sculpture and painting. It is a fantastic legacy that arrived in 1979 with the Pablo Picasso donation, in a virtuosity of materials and techniques: pencil, charcoal, ink, pastel, watercolor, in the form of free sheets or notebooks – everything that speaks of this daily familiarity with the plant material that is paper. From genre scenes of his adolescence to the ultimate raw and allegorical sketches of his assumed old age, Picasso will have drawn his life.

Picasso also made engravings. Attentive to the potential of this technique, he was able to establish an artistic dialogue with this alternative mode of creation. His attention to ancient, modern or contemporary literature, and to the old masters, unfolds in a rich set of works kept in the museum. The book thus appears as a privileged medium for certain visions and fantasies. Picasso, associated with some famous engraving craftsmen, breathed new life into this field of creation which is reflected in hundreds of essays, proofs, engraving plates, pentimenti and proofs, matrices and reconciled productions.

The archives accumulated by Picasso were donated to the State – jointly to the Direction des Archives de France and the Direction des Musées de France – by all the heirs in 1992 and assigned to the Picasso Museum responsible for their conservation and their preservation. enhancement. A brief inventory made it possible to distinguish the photographic collection and the collection of paper documents, including in particular the “written” archives. The written archives fund includes more than 100,000 documents. Coming from Picasso’s various residences, these are his writings, his personal papers, his accounts, his books, his exhibition catalogs but also correspondence, authors’ manuscripts, models of works, tracts, cardboard boxes. invitation, press clippings, etc.: the palimpsest of a life,

The collection of photographic archives contains more than 17,000 documents attesting to Picasso’s often experimental interest in the photographic medium. It brings together photographs taken by Picasso himself but also by important figures of 20th century photography (Cecil Beaton, Brassaï, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lucien Clergue, Robert Doisneau, Douglas David Duncan, Dora Maar, Man Ray, Gjon Mili, Edward Quinn, André Villers, among others). This set reflects the close collaboration of the artist with the photographers of the century.

Library and Documentation
The library brings together a fund of about 11,000 books. These have been purchased or obtained through donations or exchanges over the past thirty years. There are also around a hundred books illustrated with original prints by Pablo Picasso. The museum teams maintain documentary files on the works in the collection, as well as on themes related to Pablo Picasso. Finally, the museum has audiovisual documentation of various origins and formats.

Giacometti Furniture
The Picasso-Paris Museum has an exceptional collection of 50 pieces of furniture created exclusively by Diego Giacometti for the Hôtel Salé. This unique set comprising bronze benches, chairs and tables, as well as various models of bronze and resin lamps, was acquired when the Picasso Museum opened in 1985, thanks to a public order initiated by the Center National des Arts Plastiques.

The furniture is melted by the Susse foundry and the Jacques Redoutey foundry, and delivered a few weeks after Diego’s death. The lights are made by the Haligon workshop, with great fidelity to the plasters of the artist. These works testify to the delicacy of the universe of Diego Giacometti, where the purity of the Greek line can be read in the design of the tables, benches and chairs or the touching presence of nature, through the tulips and foliage surrounding the bulbs of the lights, or two small owls placed on the metal branch of a bronze lantern.

After 25 years of operation, the Picasso Museum had to undertake both the renovation of its material and technical installations and the redefinition of its inclusion in the site of the Hôtel Salé. Initially, it was decided by the Ministry of Culture and Communication to carry out between 2006 and 2009 a restoration project for the facades, exterior decorations and perimeter walls. This operation made it possible to save the important carved elements of the cornices and pediments of the hotel. The restoration, renovation and extension program launched in 2009 is much larger than the previous one both in terms of its objectives and its cost.

The interior restoration restore its luster to the Hôtel Salé. They concern first of all the 17th century building: restoration of the decorations of the hall and the Grand Staircase, remodeling and repaving of the Cour d’honneur, renovation of the door frames and windows, restoration of the terrace of the Communes, revision of the roofs, improvement of the climate of the grand staircase. The arrangements made by Roland Simounet are also restored. The administrative services are relocated to a neighboring site, which frees up new spaces for presenting the collection. At the end of the current project, the exhibition area dedicated to the presentation of the permanent collections and related activities dedicated to the public will be extended to the entire building,

This restructuring makes it possible to think of a new visit route, and, more broadly, another life for the visitor within the museum. Thus, reception is now from the Commons, providing comfortable entry into the museum thanks to the various services offered and dedicated places on the ground floor and in the basement. This part of the building is the subject of a major architectural intervention led by Agence Bodin et Associés.

The project provides for the restoration of the volumes of the 17th century building, in particular the geometry and the visual configuration of the farmyard. The pavilion of the former stables, like the terrace overlooking the Cour d’honneur, will now be integrated into the visitor trail. The rehabilitation of the technical wing located along the gardens makes it possible to create a modular auditorium serving as a multimedia room, and where the mediation activities will be held. This renovation also makes it possible to install the areas necessary for the management of the collections (transit reserve, museum workshop, logistics premises) and for museum staff (rest room and kitchen, amenities and changing rooms). The garden is renovated and recreated, as well as the green terrace.

In the main building, the visit route has been modified. We find the horizontal rows of 17th century rooms on the facade, on the garden and the main courtyard. The exhibition is on five levels (basement, ground floor and three floors). The vertical circulations are ensured by the various restored staircases (large central staircase, stairs built by Roland Simounet), the ramp by Roland Simounet and the renovation of two lifts in the north and south pavilions. This circulation makes it possible to link the new spaces freed up by the relocation of administrative services or technical installations to the large heritage rooms for the presentation of the collections in renovated spaces.

As the building of the Hôtel Salé is partially classified as a Historic Monument, the work to be carried out on the classified parts (facades, exterior joinery, courtyard and main staircase, woodwork room) is entrusted to the project management. by Mr. Stéphane Thouin, Chief Architect of Historical Monuments. The interior refurbishment works of the hotel and the Communes, the technical wing and the garden are being carried out under the project.