Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Curtain rises on Picasso masterpiece

Ottawa, Canada - June 2, 2004

Levée du rideau sur un chef-d’œuvre de Picasso

After decades of waiting in the wings, Pablo Picasso’s largest painting took centre stage today at the National Gallery of Canada, where media members got a sneak peek of the masterpiece that will be part of the exhibition The Great Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown from 25 June to 19 September 2004.

The work is an immense stage curtain that Picasso painted as a backdrop for the modernist ballet Parade in 1917. At 16.2 metres wide by 10.52 metres high (53 by 34.5 feet), the spectacular curtain is too large to be hung in most museums.

“The National Gallery of Canada is thrilled and honoured to be able to show Picasso’s majestic curtain in its very own gallery,” says Pierre Théberge, Director of the National Gallery of Canada and chair of the exhibition’s curatorial committee. 

The ballet Parade was a landmark collaboration between writer-artist Jean Cocteau, composer Erik Satie, choreographer Léonide Massine of Les Ballets Russes, and Pablo Picasso, who designed the sets, costumes and, of course, the curtain. Picasso first sketched the curtain in Rome, then completed in a Paris studio shortly before Parade opened on 18 May 1917.

The Great Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown, the National Gallery of Canada’s much-anticipated summer exhibition, is a look at the circus through the eyes of artists such as Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rouault, Chagall and Léger. The more than 175 paintings, sculptures, photographs and videos reveal the reality and even the tragedy behind circus performers’ comic faces and dazzling costumes. The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Canada and presented by The American Express Foundation.

“American Express is proud to support The Great Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown,” says Beth Horowitz, President and CEO of American Express Canada. “Important works like Picasso’s stage curtain will make this a wonderful and memorable exhibition.”

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Anouk Hoedeman
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
tel. (613) 990-6835
fax (613) 990-9824