Illustrious Spanish artist Pablo Picasso never set foot in Chicago nor, for that matter, did he ever visit the United States. Nevertheless, the much-loved painter and sculptor has ties here, ties that underlie “Picasso and Chicago,” the first large-scale Picasso exhibition presented by the Art Institute of Chicago in three decades.
The exhibition, at the museum’s Regenstein Hall, displays more than 250 works selected from the museum’s own holdings and from private collections. It includes paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and ceramics by Picasso.
Speaking at a press briefing, exhibition curator Stephanie D’Alessandro said the works highlight Picasso’s development as an artist, covering his wide-ranging style during his Blue, Rose and rebellious Cubist periods.
D’Alessandro said part of the exhibition highlights the city’s interest in and support of Picasso during the Armory Show hosted in 1913 by the Art Institute, a “signal event” in the history of modern art. That historic centennial event brought together the works of the most radical European artists of the day and their progressive American contemporaries.
The museum, whose Picasso collection numbers nearly 400 items, began accumulating the artist’s work in the early 1920s with two figural drawings, “Sketches of a Young Woman and a Man” and “Study of a Seated Man.” On display from Picasso’s Blue Period is “The Old Guitarist” (1903-04), a popular piece of a melancholy, emaciated musician. It is said to reflect the artist’s empathy for those who find themselves in poor circumstances.
Among other works shown are the classically inspired “Mother and Child” (1921) and surreal “Red Armchair” (1931) as well as the Cubist “Head of a Woman” (1909). Visitors also will encounter a three-dimensional maquette for the artist’s iconic Richard J. Daley Center sculpture.
‘ Picasso and Chicago’at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, through May 12. Admission: Adults $18, children 14 and over, students and seniors, $12; under 14, free. Open daily 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (except Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.). www.artinstituteofchicago.org