Picasso’s Blue Period From A Conservator’s Perspective

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Associate Conservator Patricia Favero presenting at Museu Picasso in Barcelona.

Last week, Associate Conservator Patricia Favero headed to Museu Picasso in Barcelona along with colleagues from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago to present findings at The Blue Period: New Interpretations by Means of Technical Studies, a seminar of restoration and conservation. You may recall news from last June that a portrait of a man was discovered under the Phillips’s painting by Pablo Picasso, The Blue Room; Patti discussed the research and process behind this revelation.

UPDATE: For a limited amount of time, you can watch the full presentation video on the Museu Picasso’s website.

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Associate Conservator Patricia Favero presenting at Museu Picasso in Barcelona.

 

Being An Artist at The Phillips Collection

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Henri Matisse, Studio, Quai Saint-Michel, 1916. Oil on canvas, 58 1/4 x 46 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1940.

What is it like to be an artist working at The Phillips Collection? I tackle this question not because I claim to be an artist—far from it, in fact; I see myself more as a cultural sociologist than an artist—but because over the last month or so of working here, I have been inspired to create more than ever before. More to the point, over the next few weeks, the Phillips is exhibiting works by artists employed at the museum and I wanted to take a moment to think about how we are all affected by working amongst great art.

It is a traditionally held dictate that visitors to a museum shall passively engage with the art. Walk up to it silently, contemplate subject and color for a moment, then move on to the next piece. Here at the Phillips, however, the environment is such that one cannot help but become intimately attached to the works hanging on the walls. They become old friends, and we move from passive engagement to something more ambiguous and often awkwardly articulated. The works of art become inspiration. They pop up in dreams and motifs in our own work. Moreover, most of the museum guards have an artistic bent which allows for conversation about and active engagement with the art, and who among us does not feel a tinge of joy when we come across the many troops of school children discussing pieces and creating their own art in response? Personally, I have become obsessed with Henri Matisse’s Studio, Quai Saint-Michel. It is currently on view on the second floor of the original Phillips house in a small gallery just past Renoir’s Luncheon of the Booting Party. The painting’s size in this room makes it imposing and all consuming. It is as if you are transported into that studio space with its soft light. It has sparked in my work a new interest in color and pattern, as well as an impulse to incorporate other art forms such as music into my otherwise purely visual creations.

It is impossible to remain passive in a museum like the Phillips. You are constantly confronting works in a personal way and they in turn intimately confront you. Being an artist working here is like gaining the ability of osmosis as the creative urge seeps into your veins. All I can say is, after a day’s work within this museum, I cannot wait to get back to my canvas and paints.

Dominique Lopes, Director’s Office Intern

 

Behind the Blue: The Outliers

After discovering a hidden painting underneath the Phillips’s The Blue Room (1901) by Pablo Picasso, conservators and curators are still researching the identity of the person in the portrait. You’ve been calling, e-mailing, tweeting, and posting your ideas about who the mystery man might be. We’re sharing information on the most popular suggestions here on the blog. Today, we focus on some of the most fun, though perhaps unlikely, suggestions.

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Images left to right: (Top) James Lipton; Georges Braque; Louis CK (Middle) Lady Gaga; Infrared of Pablo Picasso’s The Blue Room (1901). The Phillips Collection, copyright 2008; Vincent van Gogh (Bottom) Paul Cézanne; Paul Gauguin; Luciano Pavarotti

While the suggestion may not have been a serious one, we can’t help seeing the striking resemblance between James Lipton (top left) and the portrait found behind Picasso’s The Blue Room (center) after one of our Facebook fans suggested it to us. Same goes for Louis CK; Lady Gaga, however, is a bit more of a stretch even in jest. Above are some of our favorite suggestions thus far, comedic or otherwise.

Send us your idea of who the mystery man may be with #BlueRoom or in the comments below.