Having confidence in my ability to use the library led to many successes that enabled my education and career. Continuing with memories of Junior High School, one research paper sticks out in my mind. The seventh grade art teacher, Mrs. Scott, assigned us to do a report about a famous artist. For reasons I do not remember, I chose Pablo Picasso. After doing my usual background research in the library, it occurred to me to visit the Museum of Modern Art to see some of the famous Picasso pieces in-person.
What worked for the library also worked for going to the Museum, so no problem getting Mom’s permission for this trip. At the museum, I dutifully went around the collection to see the paintings by Picasso.
The Museum of Modern Art has a history of holding numerous works by Picasso and offering special exhibitions of his work. Some of the famous pieces, such as “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” “Three Musicians,” “Girl before a Mirror,” were on display. By far the most impressive holding was “Guernica,” the classic Picasso piece about the horrors of war. I will never forget standing in front of this mural, which is more than 25 feet long and 11 feet tall.
In 1962 “Guernica” was on an extended loan to the Museum. In 1981, the painting was returned to Spain and currently resides in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. Many believe “Guernica” is the most important and valuable piece of art from the 20th Century.
In addition to taking personal notes about each piece, I went to the gift shop, where even my meager budget allowed me to purchase postcard images of several of the paintings. I integrated the images into my hand typed paper. See below for a scanned copy of the report. My discussion of “Guernica” is on page four.
This effort led to the highest grade I every received – A+++. Mrs. Scott even sent the paper to the school principal, Charles Veit, who sent her a note with his reaction. (See last page of gallery below). It’s easy to see why Picasso and the Museum of Modern Art, along with the libraries of Queens and New York City, have a special place in my heart and mind.
There is no question this overall experience led to a lifelong passion for visiting museums and appreciating the incredible works found there. I’ve had the great fortune to go to the Louvre, the Uffizi, the great museums of San Francisco and many others.
I have been able to see some of the greatest artists of all time including van Gogh, Monet, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Renoir, O’Keeffe, Matisse, and Botticelli. While attending the 2017 Annual Conference of the Special Libraries Association, I used some personal time to take in the “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera” exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.
Looking at the individual pieces, and knowing you are viewing one of the ultimate accomplishments of human existence is powerful, and even emotionally draining.
In the late 1990s the California Palace of the Legion of Honor held an exhibit “Picasso And the War Years: 1937-1945.” Seeing these works immediately took me back to that early visit to the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Read George’s paper by clicking on the first image below.