"Picasso, Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso Paris"
French Ambassador’s Residence
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Sophie and I are delighted to welcome you this evening - and I am glad to see familiar faces and close friends.
This is a very special event for Sophie and me as we have just recently arrived in Washington – and this evening marks our first reception in our new home.
We are so honored and pleased to return to Washington, where our youngest son was born eleven years ago, and it was only a few days ago that I had the privilege of presenting my credentials to President Obama in the Oval Office with Sophie and our two sons.
We are so pleased that the first reception we are hosting is dedicated both to art and to the friendship between France and Virginia—one of the states with which our country has the most longstanding historic and cultural ties.
Everyone knows Picasso as one of the most if not the most influential and radical artist of the 20th century. Everyone in this room has seen his paintings, read about his life or studied his style.
But the exhibit “Picasso, Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso Paris,” on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts since February 19, invites us to go much farther. It allows us to directly enter the artist’s world. Indeed, the 176 works on display all belonged to Picasso himself until the end of his life. This collection is Picasso’s collection, made up of pieces he particularly loved, set aside, and believed would constitute the best testimony of his work.
In a word, Picasso himself is the curator of this exhibit.
What characterized Picasso was his unprecedented ability to renew his aesthetic, as well as his fidelity to his own genius. The approach taken by our friends in Richmond and the Musée Picasso highlights these two essential aspects of the artist’s work. For the public, it offers a unique experience, in which one thrills to discover the powerful force of creativity, witnessing the singular and sincere adventure of one man.
As you know, the Picasso exhibit is on a world tour while the Musée National Picasso in Paris is being renovated.
We are very happy that its East Coast show is taking place at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts a year after the inauguration of its magnificent new wing.
I particularly want to thank and congratulate the museum’s director, Mr. Alex Nyerges, as well as his entire team, on this initiative. At the same time, we know that this endeavor is a challenge, and we wish you the utmost success.
I would also like to express my gratitude to Anne Baldassari, director of the Musée National Picasso in Paris, who spared no effort to ensure the success of this project.
Throughout his long life, Picasso engaged in a dialogue: with the Old Masters, with history, and with us. I see this exhibit as a magnificent opportunity for dialogue between our two countries and more broadly, as Picasso was Spanish and lived in France, between the United States and Europe.
Thank you all for coming this evening. I hope you will have the opportunity to go to Richmond to see “Picasso, Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso Paris” and that you will encourage the public to do so as well.