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Picasso's Animals: From an Illustrated Book Based on Buffon's Natural History

Tuesday 9 July – Sunday 25 August 2013
9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Fridays 9:30 am – 8:00 pm
(Admission ends 30 mins. before closing time)
Closed on:
Mondays and 16 July (Open on 15 July and 12 August)
Prints and Drawings Gallery, NMWA
Organized by:
The National Museum of Western Art
Admission Fees:
Adults 420 yen (210 yen), College students 130 yen (70 yen)
Numbers in parentheses indicate discount fees for groups of 20 or more.
Tickets for Permanent Collection Galleries provide access to this exhibition.
Visitors aged 18 and under or 65 and older are admitted free of charge. Please show your ID upon entrance to confirm your age.
Disabled visitors admitted free of charge, with one attendant. Please present your disability identification upon arrival.
Fun Days:
Free admission on Saturday 10 August and Sunday 11 August

Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), world-renowned for such masterpieces as Guernica, created a massive number of art works in diverse media, from paintings to sculpture and ceramics. His print oeuvre numbers more than 2,000 images, including his fascinating series of illustrations based Buffon's Natural History.

Thanks to its concise and witty prose, Natural History (1749–67), an encyclopedic work by the 18th century French naturalist, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–1788), remained an extremely popular work as late as the early 20th century. The Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard capitalized on this Natural History popularity, proposing the publication of a small selection of the descriptions of various animals found in Natural History, all to be illustrated by images created by Picasso. Accepting this commission, Picasso produced around 30 prints depicting animals, birds and insects.

While Buffon's Natural History illustrated each entry with intricate and accurately rendered images of its subject, Picasso chose not to base his prints on those images, turning instead to produce his own creative series of illustrations. At times abbreviated in depiction, these works express the vitality and dynamic sensibility of each subject. Picasso liked animals and is said to have kept a variety of pets throughout his life. That interest in and affection for living things may have contributed to his fascinating expression in this print series.

During this exhibition five volumes of Buffon's Natural History, on loan from the Tokyo National Museum, will also be on display and will provide a splendid opportunity to compare Buffon's work with Picasso's freely-expressed animal images. In addition, this summer's Fun with Collection program will give young visitors a chance to explore animal expression in art as seen in this exhibition and throughout our galleries. Participants in the program can add yet another dimension to their enjoyment and understanding of the exhibition.

Exhibition checklist (PDF File, about 195KB)


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