When it opened at the beautifully restored Hôtel Salé (Salt Mansion, built by a man who made his fortune by controlling the salt distribution in 17th-c. France) in the Marais, the press hailed it as a "museum for Picasso's Picassos," and that's what it is. The state acquired the world's greatest Picasso collection in lieu of his family paying $50 million in inheritance taxes: 203 paintings, 158 sculptures, 16 collages, 19 bas-reliefs, 88 ceramics, and more than 1,500 sketches and 1,600 engravings, along with 30 notebooks. These works span some 75 years of the artist's life and ever-changing style.
The range of paintings includes a remarkable 1901 self-portrait; The Crucifixion and Nude in a Red Armchair; and Le Baiser (The Kiss), Reclining Nude, and Man with a Guitar, all painted at Mougins on the Riviera in 1969 and 1970. Stroll through the handsome museum and find your own favorite -- perhaps the wicked Jeune Garçon à la Langouste (Young Man with a Lobster), painted in Paris in 1941. Several intriguing studies for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which shocked the establishment and launched cubism in 1907, are also on display. Because the collection is so vast, temporary exhibits featuring items such as his Studies of the Minotaur are held twice per year. Also here is Picasso's own treasure trove of art, with works by Cézanne, Rousseau, Braque, Derain, and Miró. Picasso was fascinated with African masks, many of which are on view.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010