Monday, 21 April 2014

National Gallery loans Picasso's Self-Portrait to Spain

ČTK |
17 April 2013

Prague, April 16 (CTK) - Czech National Gallery (NG) will reciprocally loan Pablo Picasso's Self-Portrait of 1907, one of the most valuable items in the Czech state collections, to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain, where an exhibition of the painter's self-portraits will start on May 31.

The work that is commonly displayed in Prague will be the Spanish exhibition's main visual motif.

When the Czech government consented to the painting's display in France in 2002, its insurance value was put at 40 million crowns.

At the time, however, the painting was not finally loaned to France because the government feared it might be seized abroad over the then restitution claims by heirs of Czech art collector Vincenc Kramar.

Experts say the painting's artistic value is not quantifiable.

The highest price a Picasso painting fetched at an auction was more than 100 million dollars.

The "Prague" Picasso will return to the Barcelona museum as a loan after 22 years when it also decorated the front page of the exhibition catalogue.

The loan of the painting has been discussed by the Barcelona museum's director Bernardo Laniado-Romero with Czech NG director Vladimir Roesel since Monday.

The self-portrait in Prague represents the culmination of Picasso's early portrait works. After painting it, he started doing self-portraits again only in 1917. The early phase of his work ends with this Prague self-portrait, which is why it is so important, Laniado-Romero told CTK Tuesday.

Roesel said the painting will be sent abroad despite the fact that the government in recent months recommended that state-owned works or art not be loaned abroad in order to prevent their possible seizure by foreign courts over the ongoing arbitration between the Czech Republic and the Diag Human company.

Most recently, for example, the Culture Ministry did not permit the loaning of several artifacts for an exhibition in Poland, which, however, failed to provide legal guarantees preventing their seizure.

"We have asked the Culture Ministry to allow the [Picasso painting's] export and we've received the permit," Roesel told CTK.

He and Laniado-Romero also discussed the possibilities of exchanges of other works of classic modern art.

Barcelona will loan the NG a Picasso ceramic for an exhibition of sculptor Jan Krizek, one of the prominent and most original Czech artists settled in France.

A large exhibition of his works will start in Prague in June. It will feature more than 300 of his works and will show them in international context, next to Picasso or jean Dubuffet, among others.

Czech well-known art collector Vincenc Kramar (1877-1960) was one of the first to recognise Picasso and other cubist artists' talent.

Picasso's Self-Portrait that Kramar bought from arts trader Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler is one of the NG's icons.

Kramar bequeathed a major part of his collection, including Picasso works, to the NG and another part to his heirs.

They claimed the works from the NG after the fall of the communist regime in 1989, saying the gift was made under political persecution.

Courts, however, decided that the works will remain in NG ownership.

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