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Monday, 1 March 2010

At PMA, Everyone's a Critic

Museum Opens its Website
to Picasso Show Criticism

By Richard Carreno
Junto Staff Writer Bio
The Philadelphia Museum's new Pablo Picasso show, 'Picasso and the Avant-Garde,' which opened last week, has been getting the critical once-over from almost from every quarter. From Olympian pronuciamentos (The Inquirer), to Delphic academic-speak (BroadStreetReview.com), to the simply boring (think the weeklies).

Not surprising. The retrospective, wonderfully crafted by modern art curator Michael Taylor, highlighting Picasso's ante-bellum oeuvre, deserves as much attention as it can get.

I gave it my full attention, in differing assessments, in this space, at Junto.blogspot.com, and the BroadStreetReview. My critique looked at the show from its institutional perspective, as well from its artistic merits. And I, too, gave it high marks.

But the PMA isn't just relying on the Establishment commentariat to drive ticket sales.

It's a world, of course, wherein everyone's a critic. And without fear or favor -- the museum needs to be congratulated for this -- it has opened up its website to give any attendee a voice. And a shout. Or rant.

And it's not all praise.

'It was too crowded!' said one observer. "Very congested, difficult to move around and impossible to enjoy the exhibit.'

Mediocre at best,' said another public critic. "I walked away with a feeling that Picasso is way over-exposed and that the true [hero] of the exhibit was Braque.' Further, 'the eminence cries of this exhibit is not Michael Taylor, but A.E. Gallatin, whose own art and collection form the highlight of the exhibit.'

Another critic complained that he didn't actually enter the show until 11:30 AM, though he possessed an 11 AM timed-ticket. Tut. Tut.

'Would have loved to have seen the show end with Guernica,' groused another.

Bellyaching wasn't actually representative -- but it's always good to have an alternative viewpoint.

More common were the kudos -- and the like observations.
  • 'Amazing exhibition. I will go again before it ends.'
  • ''Splendid exhibit. So much to see, and fortunately not too big a crowd when I was there.'
  • 'Sick dude.'
  • 'Wonderful! Marvellous! Bravo!'
  • It was really great. But why am I so sleepy?'
Several criitcisms had nothing to do with the show, but with how public transportation always gets a back seat at the museum. Why, several patrons asked, did they have to stand in the rain waiting for at Septa bus? Wouldn't a bus shelter be obvious?