It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum… it’s a stunning building filled with jaw-droppingly impressive art and friendly folks who will show you around and hey, it’s freezing outside, so what better way to while away an afternoon?
Well it just got better. Seriously.
In the world of art, this museum stands pretty much alone with its gorgeous collection of Hudson River School artists, its Titanic artifacts and other rotating displays, its Bosse photographs and the amazing carvings of Leo Smith. From the day it opened, it was a cool place to walk around in. So when the museum unveiled a Monet, I really thought they had outdone themselves. Then they unveiled another one, and a Renoir to boot. It was pretty sweet. Then they brought out a Van Gogh, and we all swooned. I mean really, how crazy is it that in Winona you can stand two feet from a trifecta of history’s greatest artists?
What’s that you say? Where is the Picasso? As in, it can’t be “history’s greatest artists” if Picasso isn’t in there?
Oh yeah. We’ll see your Picasso, and we’ll raise you a Georgia O’Keefe, a John F. Kensett and a Frederick de Hass.
The museum unveiled four new paintings in December – new to them, I mean, because actually these paintings are pretty old. They’ve been hiding in private collections around the globe, with art scouts for Mary Burrichter and Bob Kierlin locating them like lost treasure when one suddenly becomes available.
Mary and Bob, who own the collection of art at the museum and have it on permanent loan there, gave me a tour of the new paintings when they were being hung, and all I can say is… holy Pablo Picasso.
Let’s face it, anyone who followed Picasso’s work at all knows he was kind of, um, weird sometimes. Picasso fans, don’t send me letters – you know it’s true. The Cubist stuff with noses going the wrong directions and heads having more than one face – yeah, interesting, but weird. And some of his stuff was kind of, uh, graphic, or as Mary B. put it, offensive. But some of his work was also insanely beautiful, so when I heard they brought in a Picasso, frankly I couldn’t *wait* to see what was hanging there.
It wasn’t easy finding the right Picasso, Mary told me. It had to be a finished piece that represented his best skills, something considerably harder to find than one of his countless unfinished-looking sketches out there. And it had to be appropriate, as in the kind of thing that wouldn’t make mothers cover their children’s eyes when they turned the corner or give somebody nightmares. Oh yeah, and it had to have a piece of water big enough to float a boat, because, well, that’s the rules at a marine art museum.
The 1933 Picasso hanging in MMAM is called “Homme Assis” and it was a rare find. It went into a private collection in 1934 and stayed there for the rest of the century and then some. The family decided to part with it recently, but it only hung on display in a gallery in New York for two weeks before Mary and Bob snatched it up for their collection.
Lucky them, and lucky us, because it is lovely. It’s a man sitting next to a window looking over the Bay of Cannes, and it is a vision with bold, elegant lines and perfect balance. Okay, the guy is naked, but just a little naked, and it’s done very tastefully. I seriously love this painting – it is my new favorite in the museum, and to be honest, I don’t know how they are going to beat it.
But I think they are going to. They didn’t want to let on too much, but Mary and Bob hinted that they expect to have some new art finds to unveil in April. What’s left, the Mona Lisa? Just kidding – I don’t think France is going to be letting go of that one any time soon, and besides, I don’t think there’s any water in it. But if they can find a Picasso and a Georgia O’Keefe and a Renoir and a Van Gogh and a couple of Monets, I say there’s really no telling what will be hanging in there next. Oh yeah, and it’s $6 to get in for adults, $3 for students. Seriously. How seeing some of the best art in the world can be cheaper than a movie I don’t know, but think of it as a gift, and go see it for yourself.