MoMA, the Guggenheim and Picasso

picasso_avignon_moma_1907-2It has always been a privilege for me to consult with collectors of Pablo Picasso’s artwork. Being a collector and admirer of Picasso and the master artists of the 20th century has enabled me to share my passion with art collectors, helping them understand the artwork not just from a perspective of beauty in the work itself, but lending the artwork the benefit of the historical context it deserves.

I took time off during a busy few days recently in New York City to revisit the Pablo Picasso paintings housed in the permanent collections at the Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It was a reminder that viewing these paintings online or in publication pales in comparison to seeing these works in person.

The monumental Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is on permanent display at MoMA, and standing in front of it again I was reminded what a visceral painting this is.  The painting appears as fresh as the day it was created.  As with many of Picasso’s oil paintings, his compositions appear ageless, never dated.  We subconsciously consider Picasso’s paintings as modern even as we stand in front of a work created over 100 years ago.  To say Picasso was “ahead of his time” is an understatement.  His artwork stands on its own, never belonging to a movement other than one he had created himself.  To stand in front of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and look at the faces of the women staring unflinchingly back challenging the viewer to look away, is an incredible experience, and one that is essential for the serious admirer and collector of Picasso’s artwork.

At the Guggenheim Museum, visitors have the opportunity to view paintings spanning the majority of Picasso’s artistic creation, from 1900 (Le Moulin de la Galette) to as late as 1965 (Le homard et le chat).  One of the most recognizable paintings in the collection, Femme aux cheveux jaunes (1931), is a fantastic example of what some art professors call “complexity resolved.”  At this point in Picasso’s career he had an ongoing challenge with Henri Matisse to create a finished composition with as few lines as possible, which art professors have also given a term to, “economy of means.”

If you follow the lines in Femme aux cheveux jaunes, you see how few there really are; the hair turns into an arm and the edge of the sofa’s fabric defines the figure’s lap.  The hidden genius behind this painting is reflected in Picasso’s ability to show volume with minimal shading.  This, combined with strong unbroken lines, is a clear example of “complexity resolved.”

I am proud to offer my consulting services to collectors and investors in fine art. My initial approach when working with potential investors is to help them “see” the paintings that they’re considering and to help them define their own personal taste.  Collecting from a place of passion and context gives investors the chance to make informed buying decisions, ultimately leading to a stronger and potentially more valuable art collection.

Please contact me to make an appointment to discuss your own interests in art collecting and investing and to learn about the consulting services I offer.

Dan Root