Review: Picasso, Completely Himself in 3 Dimensions

Many exhibitions are good, some are great and a very few are tantamount to works of art in their own right — for their clarity, lyricism and accumulative wisdom.

The Museum of Modern Art’s staggering “Picasso Sculpture” is in the third category. Large, ambitious and unavoidably, dizzyingly peripatetic, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It sustains its vision through a ring of 11 grand spaces on the museum’s fourth floor, tracing the serial genre-bending forays into three dimensions wrought by this 20th-century titan of painting. Each bout lasted a few years and was different from the one before, and each has been given its own gallery, more or less.

With one stunning exception — the voluptuous saturnine Marie-Thérèse Walter — the women in Picasso’s life don’t herald stylistic changes in the round as they tend to on canvas. In sculpture, the materials become the muses.

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