If you want to see images, friend me on Facebook, because that's where I'm able to publish a greater number than I can fit here. (You'll notice I tried to include a person or a distance or a strange angle in every one; we were required to focus more on installation than single works.)
And now, in no particular order:
1. Remember the BS Michelangelo show? This is not that. It has more than 150 works of art in it. As far as Picasso shows go, this will be one of the best you'll ever see outside Paris. Just so we're clear.
2. There has never been a major Picasso exhibition in Seattle. There is virtually no Picasso of any kind living permanently in Seattle—in all the museums, just a handful of decent prints, no paintings or sculptures. This means that this is a blockbuster that will define a generation. It spans every era of his eight decades of work (he lived 1881 to 1973).in the museum's publicity) are in fact very small. Some very large paintings here I've never seen before even in reproduction.
4. A whole photo section is unexpected and pretty damn interesting—it's more than just vanity shots of an admittedly vain dude (though those are there for you fans). It includes a tiled series of progress shots of Guernica, in which you see elements develop and then mutate—the raised fist that becomes an eye that becomes a lightbulb being the most famous.
5. Guernica and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Picasso's two most famous paintings, live elsewhere and do not move; they are not here. Neither is the skinny guitarist, the first acknowledged collage in all of art history (from 1912), the masturbating/dreaming woman, nor any doves. But there's a lot here from the blue period, from cubism (both painting and sculpture), studies for the Dem, all the lovers, influences ranging from Goya to Matisse and Pop, revolutionary politics, stick-figure kiddie drawings, the bicicyle-seat bull's head, etchings including The Minotauromachy, good paintings and bad (to me, Two Women Running on the Beach is a pretty terrible painting), women with penises for noses, neoclassicism, surrealism, Harlequin outfits, screaming, crying, still-lifes, Calder, cooking utensils, a rainbow palette, and a grey-scale palette.
6. The museum let Picasso infiltrate the whole building, so for instance, certain works in SAM's African and mid-century modern collections are designated with a Picasso symbol and bear descriptions of how they relate to Picasso.
7. Admission is expensive. It is $23 for adults, $20 for seniors and military, $18 for students and ages 13-17, and free for children 12 and under and SAM members (and it includes the audio tour). Discount days are 5-9 pm Thursdays and Fridays ($20/$17/$15), and first Thursdays of the month ($12/$9/$8). The show closes January 17.
8. The French curator emphasized that the Picasso museum has to send its collection around the world—to be like the artist in his explorations (aesthetic, not physical; he rarely traveled anywhere). But Picasso is so familiar that taking him around the world is like lugging around a landscape already traveled. Picasso is a world religion.
9. I want to see this much excitement for a living artist who is as daring now as PIcasso was at his most fearless. He is a symbol for artistic liberation, but a possibly useless one. Let's be sure to use his appearance to focus on what and who wants liberating now, and how.
10. This show is not from the Louvre, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, or from a bunch of different places. This is a showcase of the holdings of the French national Picasso museum, which was created in 1985, 12 years after Picasso's death, after his heirs offered the state first right of refusal on the more than 70,000 works in Picasso's own estate (a donation to the state in lieu of inheritance tax). This is only the second time the holdings have traveled to the United States; the first was in 1980, while the museum was being set up in Paris (they went to MoMA). This tour starts in Seattle, then goes to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; when it leaves the U.S., it goes to Helsinki and Moscow. Money raised from the tours is going to pay for $28 million in renovations to the Paris museum.