Paris

Once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Picasso's choicest

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2012, 12:00am

The most significant Picasso exhibition yet held in Hong Kong opens on Saturday.

Organisers are calling it a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the public to view some of the artist's most personal works, which he refused to sell.

The pieces, worth an estimated HK$6.7 billion, will be on display at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum until July 22.

The exhibition will feature 60 paintings and sculptures as well as photographs by and of the man regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

Pablo Picasso was born in Spain but moved to Paris in 1900 and eventually made his home in France. The collection on loan to Hong Kong is from a French museum dedicated to his work, the Musee National Picasso Paris, which is being renovated. The works, chosen by museum director Anne Baldassari, will represent the different phases of Picasso's creative life.

Air-conditioned trucks transported the crates from the airport to the museum, with police guarding them closely and experts on hand to monitor the condition of the art.

Journalists were asked to stay at least 1.3 metres away as experts carefully opened a crate containing the sculpture Buste d'homme barbu. The crates are custom-made to keep temperature and humidity under control, as fluctuations may damage the works.

The experts who handled the pieces wore gloves to avoid tainting the artworks with acidity from their skin.

During the exhibition, the air temperature at the museum will be kept around 20 degrees Celsius and relative humidity around 50 per cent, curator Cheng Woon-tong said.

As for security, Gilles Bonnevialle, the French consul for culture, education and science in Hong Kong and Macau, said: 'A French expert came and stayed for a week, inspecting the security, and he thought it was one of the best in the world. That is one of the reasons we chose this venue.'

Even so, security will be stepped up during the exhibition, though Cheng refused to disclose details.

Bonnevialle said the exhibition was possible only because of the renovations being done at the Picasso museum in Paris. 'It is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to see the pieces. We've never toured and will never tour again, barring possible future renovations that may take place in 20 or 30 years.'

The entrance fee will be HK$20.