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Through the Eyes of Picasso

Through the Eyes of Picasso

This major exhibition will explore Pablo Picasso’s life-long fascination with African and Oceanic art, as well as works from the Americas, uniting his paintings and sculpture with art that fueled his own creative exploration.

In addition to paintings, sculpture, and drawings by Picasso, the exhibition will feature significant works of African and Oceanic art that transformed his artistic vision when he encountered them at the Musée d’ Ethnographie du Trocadéro (now Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris) during the early part of the 20th century. For Picasso, the allure of these masks and sculptures was in the artists’ exploration of line, abstraction of the human body, and representation of metamorphosis.

Visitors also will see works Picasso collected, lived with, and kept with him through numerous studio moves, still owned by his family, and others that are in the Picasso Museum in Paris.

Explore our Library Guide to help you learn more about Picasso and this exhibition.

This exhibition contains images of nudity.

Painting and mask

Picasso painting and an African mask

Exhibition Programs

Speaker Series
All talks 6-7 pm
Tickets required

Julián Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins and exhibition curator, has invited three prominent French scholars and museum leaders to share perspectives on Pablo Picasso, his creative interests and relationship with the arts of Africa and the world.

Thursday, February 22
Picasso’s Collection of African and Oceanic Art
Presented by Peter Stepan, scholar and author

Thursday, March 22
Paris’ musée quai Branly and the Display of African Art
Presented by Stéphane Martin, president of the musée quai Branly–Jacques Chirac, Paris

Thursday, April 5
The Musée Picasso: An Enduring Legacy
Presented by Laurent le Bon, president of the Musée National Picasso–Paris


Thurs, Nov 9 | 6 pm

Art Tasting with Julian
Making Through the Eyes of Picasso

Join Julián as he sits down with Catherine Futter, director of curatorial affairs, and Anne Manning, director of education & interpretation, to discuss how an entire museum came together to create the exhibition.

Third Thursday

Thurs, Nov 16 | 6-9 pm

Picasso Unplugged

Your not-so-quiet night at the museum with live music, art activities and more celebrating the world cultures that inspired Picasso.

Book Discussion

Saturday, Dec 9 | 10:30 am

Gertrude Stein’s Picasso

Join us for a lively discussion of Gertrude Stein’s personal memoir of Picasso.


Saturday, Jan 20 | 1 pm

All Eyes on Picasso
The Art of Appropriation

Join us for an insightful panel discussion that wrestles with questions of appropriation, appreciation, and inspiration as those concepts apply to Picasso’s work and Western art and culture.


Saturday, Feb 3 | 1 pm

The Mystery of Picasso
(1956, 78 minutes, French with English subtitles)


See Picasso in action in The Mystery of Picasso (1956, 78 minutes, French with English subtitles), the famous film that demonstrated the artist’s profound abilities in real time.

David Douglas Duncan, American (born 1916). Extreme close-up of Pablo Picasso’s eyes. La Californie’s windows are seen clearly reflected (detail), printed 2013. Inkjet print, 13 15/16 × 20 7/8 inches. Gift of David Douglas Duncan, 2014.11.159. Left: Pablo Picasso, Spanish (1881-1973). Mother and Child, 1907. Oil on canvas, 37 x 29 1/8 inches. Musée national Picasso Paris, MP19. © 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY. Photo: René-Gabriel Ojéda. Right: Reliquary Guardian, Congo, late 1800s – early 1900s. Wood, copper alloy, 25 5/8 x 13 x 3 1/4 inches. Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris. Inv. 70.2010.19.2. Image © musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. Photo: Claude Germain. Pablo Picasso, Spanish (1881-1973). Male Bust (study for “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”), 1907. Oil on canvas, 22 1/16 x 18 5/16 inches. Musée national Picasso-Paris, MP14. © 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY. Photo: René-Gabriel Ojéda. Anthropomorphic Mask, Ivory Coast, Dan culture, before 1966. Wood, 9 7/8 x 6 1/8 x 3 5/16 inches. Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris. Inv. 73.1966.3.10. Image © musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. Photo: Claude Germain.
The exhibition was conceived by musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in partnership with Musée national Picasso-Paris and adapted by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts/Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.
Major funding provided by Shirley and Barnett C. Helzberg Jr., Hall Family Foundation, Bank of America, Americo Life, Inc., Paul DeBruce and Linda Woodsmall-DeBruce, Donald J. Hall, Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, Marcelo and Jordan Claure/Sprint, Morton and Estelle Sosland/Sosland Foundation, The Donald J. Hall Initiative, Bloch Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Richard Stern Foundation for the Arts, G. Kenneth and Ann Baum, Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, Bill and Christy Gautreaux, Trudy and John Jacobson, Atterbury Family Foundation, Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, Dr. Mary Davidson – Trustee, Dick Belger and Evelyn Craft Belger, Nancy and Rick Green, The Neil D. Karbank Foundation, The Karbank Family Fund, Sara and Bill Morgan, Kent Sunderland, the Committee of 100, Inspiration Circle, and our Honorary Committee. (As of October 2, 2017)

Sunday: Closed
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: Closed
Friday: Closed
Saturday: Closed

$18 per person
$18 for adults, $16 for seniors, $14 per person for groups of 10+, $10 for students, Free for members and children 12 and younger
Location: Galleries L13-15