Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. – Pablo Picasso
Housed in a Baroque 17th-century mansion once known as the Hôtel Salé, the Musée Picasso has the largest collection of Picasso’s work in the world. Over 5,000 paintings, ceramics, and sculptures draw people from around the globe to the newly renovated (and long anticipated) building every day.
Most of the artwork in the museum comes from Picasso’s private collection. After the suicide of his second wife, Jacqueline, her daughter made arrangements to pay inheritance taxes using France’s dation law. Basically, instead of paying taxes with money, heirs can pay with works of art. And, Picasso became so prolific in the number of paintings he produced that there was no shortage of works for her to donate.
This museum experience was an unexpected eye opener for me.
Once in, I had no agenda in mind. While very well known, Picasso is not one of my favourite painters so I had nothing that I really wanted to see but kidlet seemed to be happy to wander around and study his work. At one point, she asked for my camera so she could take some photos. I obliged… and thought it a little strange but didn’t say anything.
After an hour of wandering, thinking that she might be getting bored of looking at art, I asked La Niña if she wanted to leave to find some food. She flat out said no. I haven’t seen the Bather Opening the Cabin, she said. It’s my favourite piece of art and we can’t leave until I see it.
I was flabbergasted. My down to earth, horse loving, book reading, water loving, pragmatic little girl, had a favourite piece of art! And, she didn’t mention it until that exact moment.
I just discovered something completely new about my child. And, she seemed to be studying Picasso’s other works and taking photos of the things she liked. I can’t accurately describe how I felt at that moment: I perhaps had a bit of pride (my daughter likes art), sadness (I don’t really know my daughter), and curiosity (what is she seeing in Picasso’s art that she finds so interesting).
We found the Bather about 5-minutes later. There was an “oh-my-god-there-it-is” moment and then a lot of contemplation.
I asked her why she liked the painting so much. Her response: I like the colours. I like the simplicity. And, I picked it to be the piece of art that I studied and painted in my art class. I didn’t even know she was taking an art class.
Afterwards I tried to remember who planned this excursion and I couldn’t remember if it was a suggestion that came from La Niña or if I planned a visit to the museum. If I’d known she liked Picasso, we would have arrived at the museum earlier and planned a longer visit.