MONTEVIDEO – The “Picasso in Uruguay” exhibit closes this Saturday after 90 days at the National Museum of Visual Arts (MNAV) in Montevideo, during which it received an estimated total of 185,000 visitors, a number the art museum’s Director Enrique Aguerre described as absolute madness.
The expert said the number is immense considering that the South American country has a population of just 3.4 million.
“The William Turner exhibition, which did very well at the National Fine Arts Museum in Buenos Aires, had slightly more than 170,000 visitors – and Argentina has a population 10 times larger than Uruguay,” Aguerre said to illustrate the immensity of the turnout in Montevideo.
In that regard, the director said that one reason this exhibit – which combines 26 paintings from different facets of the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso’s career with seven sculptures, four ceramics, one etching, three drawings and a watercolor, all on loan from the Picasso museums in Paris and Barcelona – has been so successful is because it is not a traveling exhibition.
“It’s one of the attractions of the exhibit,” he said, and gave as proof all the different languages heard spoken in the grand gallery where the art of the Malaga genius is on display.
Another landmark of this exhibit is that it is the first time in 180 years that a public museum in Uruguay has charged an entrance fee.
“We sold more than 57,000 entrance tickets, which is also an absolute record,” Aguerre said, who added that “more than 50,000 students entered free,” and that an equal number of people did the same on “courtesy Tuesdays.”
Despite not yet having the total amount, he said this income is not sufficient to cover the “total cost” of the exhibition, but that doesn’t matter since the MNAV saw the chance to mount this display as an “investment in culture,” not as a for-profit venture.
University students Candela Montes and Lucia Vera went to the grand gallery to see the artistic heritage of the master of cubism before his masterpieces are returned to the Old World.
“For me it’s really interesting to see the works of this world-famous artist in our country, which is so small we would never have imagined his works coming here,” said the excited Vera.
For her part, literature professor Miriam Villar took advantage of the exhibit’s final hours in her hometown to enjoy “Picasso in Uruguay” once more.
Villar said she fell in love with the painter’s style when she saw his paintings at Spain’s Picasso Museum Malaga.
“What fascinates me about Picasso is his ability to admire classical art, how cleverly he works as a plastic artist, and his obsession with innovation,” she said, adding that her favorite painting in the “Picasso in Uruguay” exhibit is his reinterpretation of “Las Meninas” (Ladies-in-Waiting) by Diego Velazquez.