The Musée Picasso, located in the Hôtel Salé in Paris' 3rd arrondissement, rightfully and proudly boasts being the most complete collection of Pablo Picasso’s works to be held anywhere in the world. After recent renovation work, the museum re-opened in fall 2014 to much excitement.
It's no wonder why Paris locals and visitors get excited about visiting Musée Picasso. Though technically an art gallery, the museum holds over 5,000 works and tens of thousands of archived pieces from the artist. This vast collection is thanks, in large part, to France’s acceptance of works of art in lieu of inheritance taxes due on paintings and other fine artworks when passed down to family members.
Hôtel Salé, Musée Picasso Paris — Photo courtesy of LPLT
Painted, sculpted, engraved and illustrated, this weighty collection lays claim to being the most comprehensive one anywhere that documents Picasso’s creative process.
For the paintings, there are nearly 300 of them, spanning from his Blue Period through to The Kiss, Large Nudes and Matadors produced in his final years. His Cubist period, his 1950s Pop Art period and his final years where he was inspired by the great masters are all represented here, as well.
For sculptures, there are about 250 three-dimensional pieces that make up this part of the collection, which includes his Cubist constructions and other rare pieces. Here you can see the art pieces Woman in the Garden (1930), Bull’s Head (1939-43) and Girl Skipping (1950), as well as his revolutionary steel-cutouts from the 1960s.
Another exceptional collection housed here at the Musée Picasso is Brassaï’s photographs, which depict the artist’s life and work and offer an impressive photographic record of Picasso’s artistic process, particularly his sculptural work.
Musée Picasso Paris — Photo courtesy of Public domain
There are also over 3,900 additional items, including sketches and engravings. Picasso’s tendency to record his entire life in drawing is now unified here, under one roof.
For the furnishing of the Hôtel Salé, 50 bespoke items were designed exclusively by Diego Giacometti and delivered just weeks before his death, when the museum first opened in 1985. Recognizable are the clean Greek lines of the bronze tables, benches and chairs.
Hôtel Salé (salé meaning "salty" in French) takes its name from the fact that this most impressive of Parisian mansions was built by a salt-tax farmer, Pierre Aubert, who completed it in 1659. Hôtel Salé is considered to be a typical Mazarin building with an abundance of sculpture, sphinxes and cupids, all of which suggest a general baroque character of the façade. The building has enjoyed historical monument status since 1968.
There is now a rooftop café, Le Café Sur Le Toit, that is on the roof of the second floor. It offers salads, sandwiches and soups to museum patrons in a workshop-like atmosphere.
Musée Picasso is open every day except Mondays. For more information, visit the museum website.