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"Picasso to Hockney" explores visual artists' designs for performance
Pablo Picasso, Scene design for Pulcinella, ca. 1920. Watercolor and gouache on paper. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of The Tobin Endowment. © Estate of Pablo Picasso/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- As museums expand their role in the world and cultivate new audiences, The McNay engages a broad spectrum of art, music, dance, and theatre lovers through its fall exhibition Picasso to Hockney: Modern Art on Stage. This presentation explores how visual artists designed for performance, challenged conventional theatre practices, and often redefined their own work in the process.

“Picasso to Hockney reinforces the McNay’s commitment to engaging absolutely everyone,” said Richard Aste, McNay Director. “By defining the arts broadly to incorporate everything from painting to performance to fashion, we can speak to even more backgrounds, identities, and interests in our community and around the world.”

The unique exhibition features more than 100 unique artworks from one of the McNay’s great strengths: the world-renowned Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts. These holdings are an unparalleled treasure trove of scenic and costume designs amassed by Robert L. B. Tobin, the late San Antonio arts visionary who recognized and championed theatre arts as fine art. For the first time in Museum history, Picasso to Hockney expands the presentation of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts beyond the Tobin Theatre Arts Galleries into its 7,000-square-foot Jane & Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions.

Rarely-seen scenic and costume designs will highlight innovative collaborations between modern artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, Natalia Gontcharova, Joan Miró, Robert Indiana, Louise Nevelson, Robert Wilson, and David Hockney and thought-provoking writers, musicians, directors, and choreographers of their day. Paintings, works on paper, and sculpture from the McNay’s iconic permanent collection are also included to generate thoughtful conversation with performance designs throughout the exhibition.

“It is a privilege to work with extraordinary and creative McNay colleagues to bring this exhibition to life for San Antonio,” said R. Scott Blackshire, PhD, Curator, Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts. “I am particularly honored to uphold the legacy of Robert L. B. Tobin – supporting museums across the country as they introduce their communities to the beauty of performance, something Mr. Tobin firmly believed.”

Interactive moments include a maquette-making activity that invites guests to create their own stage model while standing inside a life-size re-creation of Picasso’s scene design maquette for composer Manuel de Falla’s ballet, Pulcinella. Additionally, guests are invited to animate a digital version of artist Alexandra Exter’s Spanish Dancer Marionette with an Ipad.

The presentation’s soundscape features performances throughout the exhibition in artworks from the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, new music by San Antonio composer Nathan Felix, and a “follow-the-score” video projection of composer Erik Satie’s ballet, Parade.

Special programming includes a classical performance by San Antonio-based quartet Agarita, and an immersive headphone operetta experience by Nathan Felix throughout the galleries.

Picasso to Hockney: Modern Art on Stage is on view at McNay Art Museum through December 29, 2019, and travels to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL; Dayton Art Institute; and the Telfair Academy, Savannah, GA, in 2020.

Picasso to Hockney: Modern Art on Stage is organized for the McNay Art Museum by R. Scott Blackshire, PhD, Curator, Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts; Timothy James Retzloff, The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund Assistant Curator, Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts; and Jody Blake, PhD, Former Curator, Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.

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