The Picasso Museum is a must stop while in Paris, particularly when two floors of the museum are devoted to a duet between the museum's namesake and Alberto Giacometti. The two were friends and spent much time together in Paris after their first encounter in 1931, and then after the war. One walks away from the exhibit with the sense that Giacometti has not gotten the full acclaim that he deserves.
As great as the exhibit is, it has healthy competition from the building that houses it--the Hôtel Salé, which was built in the 17th Century. At one time Balzac studied here. It is considered to be one of the great mansions in all of Paris. Much the same can be said of the surrounding buildings.
The views from windows are spectacular, particularly given the thick wavy glass panes, with bubbles and other imperfections. With a telephoto lens, it is possible to create a Cubist photograph. This photograph is a reflected view (on the surface of a plexiglass-glass display case housing a Picasso sculpture) out the window--referred to in the trade as a bank shot. It is clearly in the style of my photographic hero, Saul Leiter, who once told a photographer who was hired to photograph Leiter's studio, "Don't move anything. Shoot through it."
And for those tax geeks, much of the collection came from two donations in lieu of taxes (dation Picasso): one from Picasso's estate and another from Jacqueline Roque, his second wife, following her death. And even further back in time: The house was built by Pierre Aubert, an infamous salt-tax farmer (collector). The top-two floors of the museum are devoted to the museum's impressive collection of Picasso works, which exceed 5,000. As Picasso once said, "Picasso is the best collector of Picassos").
We visited the museum during the winter of 1994, but have very little recollection of it, particularly because it underwent a major rennovation earlier this century. I recall only being on the ground floor. Like the Barnes Foundation renovation, a significant portion of the rennovation costs were financed by lending chunks of the collection to other museums.