Historic City News editor Michael Gold joined about a dozen other media representatives this morning for a presentation and tour of the Picasso Art and Arena exhibit set to show at the St Augustine Visitor Information Center, February 1 to May 11, 2013.
When we first reported, the exhibits were just arriving from Spain; the fabrication and assembly of many of the display pieces was still underway and most of the artworks were still in wooden crates.
“This is the City’s first event in the newly renovated exhibition facility, and the kick-off event for our 500th Anniversary celebration of the discovery of Florida by Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513,” said St Augustine 450th Commemoration Director, Dana Ste Claire. “We hope use this venue to host as many as three or four exhibits each year with the possibility of one major exhibit of this caliber each year.”
The City of St. Augustine has upgraded systems, including climate control, security, fire suppression, conservation lighting and UV screening, to convert the main floor into a state-of-the-art exhibition center.
Assistant City Manager Tim Burchfield reported to Historic City News today that “the total renovation, which includes visitor services and exhibition space, is approximately $1.4 million.” The 15,000 square-foot visitor complex offers approximately 5,000 square feet in the main exhibition area and reception space.
Picasso Art and Arena includes original pieces created between 1929 and 1961 by the Malagueñan artist. Both famous and rare, these pieces were produced in different styles, techniques, and media — providing unique insights into one of Picasso’s main themes: bullfighting. The “arena” is staged with original, semi-circular displays and photography; designed to create the feeling of being at an actual bullfight.
The series of 11 lithographs of this exhibition, created between December 1945, and January 1946, present a simplification of a bull’s profile, beginning with a realistic and traditional representation of the animal and gradually reducing the elements to a simplified form.
The sequence demonstrates Picasso’s innovative process and variety of creative options of working with one subject.
Other images in the exhibition offer different representations of the bull, ranging from the bull’s forehead to the whole bodied animal.
In other images they are turned into winged, frolicking creatures. The bullfighting scenes are full of drama and movement, in which Picasso resorts to the classical figuration.
In addition to engravings, Picasso expressed his fascination for bulls in a broad artistic vocabulary, through illustrated books.
When visiting the Picasso exhibit, teachers in St. Johns and Duval Counties will receive a guidebook with the content of the show that addresses the Florida school curriculum K-12. The resource guide also provides a list of pre and post activities for teachers to present in the classroom before and after the field trip. The Center currently hosts one million tourists and school children annually.
Producing future exhibits probably won’t eclipse the cost of the Picasso, estimated by Ste. Claire to total about $160,000 including rental charges, security, design and materials; however, each exhibit is expected to collect admission charges, sponsorships, and other concessions with a view towards recoupment of their cost.
“We negotiated this exhibit rental down from over $200,000,” Ste Claire explained. “We also have the ability to sell souvenirs, apparel and other logoed items in conjunction with each exhibit.”
Ste Claire said that three more exhibits are already lined up for this year — the next will be late spring or early summer. Some exhibit topics include the ancient world, alligators and the New World. “We can host traveling exhibits here, or those we curate,” Ste Claire said.
The St Augustine Visitors Information Center, adjacent to the city’s 1,200 space Historic Downtown Parking Facility, is located at 10 South Castillo Drive in St Augustine.
© 2013 Photographic images by Historic City News staff photographer
©2013 Art from the Picasso Foundation, Málaga, Spain property of Estate of Pablo Picasso