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82"I am the greatestcollector of Picassos in the world."- Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Portrait of Dora Maar (Portrait of DoraMaar), 1937. Oil on canvas. 92 x 65 cm. Musée National Picasso, Paris. PabloPicasso gift-in-lieu, 1979, MP158. © Picasso Estate / SODRAC (2012)

83he press release calls it a "major Picasso exhibition," butthat's an understatement. When the Art Gallery of Ontarioopens Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée NationalPicasso, Parisin Toronto this May - the touringexhibition's only Canadian and final stop - the gallery willdedicate 17,000 square feet to showcasing more than 150paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings spanning the artist's75-year career. And if that's not special enough, each piece isdrawn from Pablo Picasso's private collection. That's right,Picasso's Picassos. In fact, the artist once famously quipped, "Iam the greatest collector of Picassos in the world."Shiralee Hudson-Hill, an interpretive planner at the AGO,describes it better: "It's an extraordinary opportunity." She adds,"There hasn't been a Picasso show of this scale in 48 years inToronto, and I don't think we'll see another Picasso show like this,certainly in Canada, in my lifetime."The works come from Musée National Picasso, currentlyundergoing multi-year renovations, and clinching the onlyCanadian spot is a big win for the AGO, which is building on themomentum of several big shows over the last year. The knockout"Abstract Expressionist New York" brought the art of JacksonPollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Arshile Gorky, Willem deKooning and others to the city. That show was followed by "Chagalland the Russian Avant-Garde," another blockbuster. The galleryexpects "Picasso: Masterpieces" to top those shows; the exhibitionbroke attendance records at other stops, including reportedlydrawing 400,000 people to the Seattle Art Museum last year.Hudson-Hill, one member of a team that also includes a projectmanager, a 2-D designer, a 3-D designer and the curator, hasspent months preparing for the exhibition, poring over artwork andBy Jacqueline Nunesbooks that detail every aspect of Picasso's life, from hischildhood, to his mistresses, to the energy and passion that drovehis work. Her job is to tell the artist's stories to every visitor whowalks into the AGO through the labels beneath the artwork, theaudio tour, gallery attendants, the free, full-colour visitor guide,and wherever else she can. "We're kind of like ghostwriters," saysHudson-Hill, who describes her daily work as 95 percent creative- "a very rare and wonderful thing."And does she ever have stories. Combing through the life of a manwidely regarded as the greatest artist of the 20th century is nomundane task. Picasso's reputation is partly owed to hisincredibly long career - he actively painted for more than 75years - and to his singular creativity and dogged ambition."There have been no other artists like Picasso," Hudson-Hill says."He was incredibly innovative; his work was really driven by thisintense energy and this spirit of discovery. And the way hetranslated or interpreted what he saw in the world around him andcreated these beautiful works - no one saw the world likePicasso." For even the most unseasoned gallery-goer, standing infront of one of Picasso's paintings is a moving experience. "A lotof that energy, it just comes out of the painting. It pulsates, itvibrates in front of you," Hudson-Hill says. "He was a genius."The exhibition will be laid out in sections, mostly chronologically,so visitors can experience the paintings, sculptures, prints anddrawings as a visual timeline that takes them through thetrajectory of Picasso's career and gives them extraordinary viewsinto his life. "I learned that Picasso is a quintessential example ofa paradox. For everything you can say about Picasso, the oppositeis also true," Hudson-Hill says. "He was a great lover of women; hewas also a misogynist. He came from humble beginnings; he alsocame to know great wealth and fame in his lifetime. He reveled inPICASSOSPICASSO'STAGO brings monumental exhibitfrom artist's private collectionPablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Buste de femme (Bust of a Woman), 1931. Bronze (unique cast). 78 x 44.5 x 54 cm. Pablo Picasso gift-in-lieu, 1979, MP298Musée National Picasso, Paris. © Picasso Estate SODRAC (2012). © RMN/Béatrice Hatala