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PICASSO

The exhibition of the year get your tickets now!

PICASSO

By Diana Simmonds

PICASSO - Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso Paris at the Art Gallery of NSW 12 November 2011-25 March 2011. NB: Timed Entry Tickets available through Ticketek. Pictured: Figures au bord de la mer (Figures at the seashore) 1931.

It's been a vintage year for the Art Gallery of NSW, beginning with the wide-ranging brilliance of The Red Square and ending now with this unique, once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be-repeated, totally thrilling, etc etc opportunity to see some of the Musée National Picasso's collection of the artist's best work.

More than 150 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings are those from the Picasso's own collection - works he held for his lifetime and never sold. These are the works he wanted to leave to represent his career after is death - and his choices are both captivating and overwhelming.

His eight decade working life - gathered into one gallery - is an extraordinary experience. From the Blue Period (early 1900s) through the Rose Period and into the works inspired by African art to his various muses and on to the, until recently, less admired "late" period; there will be works to illustrate his curiosity, ability, competitiveness (Matisse mon ami - have at ye!) and incessant exploration of the politics, social upheavals, art movements and developments of the 20th century.

In essence you can't go past Picasso and its likely that hundreds of thousands will seek to get close in the months the collection is in Sydney. It's the touring exhibition's only landfall in Australia and, aside from the undeniable value of the art experience, the city and NSW can expect to benefit in ways not seen since Betty "Blockbuster" Churchill's tenure at the NGA in Canberra.

The show's sojourn in Seattle, for instance, was a lifesaving injection of $$$ and visitors for the teetering coffers of the Seattle Art Museum. And apparently, it generated $US66m for the state of Washington - in knock-on expenditure from visitors. If something similar happens in Sydney and NSW - and there's no reason to think it won't - it will be an excitement of rare proportions - and generated by (gasp) a cultural event. This is the kind of thing, by the way, where almost no patrons will end up ripping up saplings or vomiting in other people's front yards; or engaging in riot and mayhem around the pubs and clubs of the city. In other words: it's not a sporting event. Hmmmm.

Anyway, if you want to see the exhibition, you need to get pro-active and purchase your tickets asap. The gallery has been gearing up for the hordes for some while; so timed entrance is a must and a well-organised one, at that. Whichever way you look at it, the Art Gallery of NSW is the must get there destination for the next four months. You have been warned.

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