Frist Art Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In honor of the milestone, the museum has an extraordinary art exhibit from one of the most legendary artists of the last century.

Picasso. Figures opened at the beginning of February and will run through May 2. The exhibition, on loan from the renowned Musée national Picasso-Paris, will not be shown anywhere else in the United States. It is exclusively shown at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville. With more than 70 paintings, sketches and sculptures, the hauntingly surreal artworks are mesmerizing and marvelous.

Picasso was a pioneering artist, sculptor and painter. He was a leading artist of the Cubist movement, of which he was a co-founder. Cubism is the art of depicting forms with geometric shapes and patterns. It resonates throughout much of the Picasso. Figures exhibit, particularly with the female form. Pablo Picasso was a well-known lover of women, and his mistresses were often portrayed in his work.

Seeing the spectacular paintings still so vibrant and strong from one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century is an awe-inspiring event that moves the soul. Picasso could depict his subjects with sharp edges or languid lines that looked as if he’d drawn them in one fluid motion. Seeing the paintings in the flesh, so to speak, was quite extraordinary. And it’s right here in Tennessee. Some of my personal favorites are:

Man With a Guitar (Homme a la guitare, 1911) – This piece is so visually striking because of the depth. The more muted colors and the sharp angles create this image of a guitarist playing. I simply stared at this painting, and then it just revealed itself, at least in my experience. You could see the man playing the guitar in this environment of sharp edges and lines.

Portrait of Dora Maar (Portrait de Dora Maar, 1937) – Dora Maar was one of Picasso’s mistresses and muses. Herself a photographer and artist, she would famously document, through photography, the development of one of Picasso’s masterpieces, Guernica. It’s depicted with bold, vibrant colors that seem to leap off the canvas. This piece is definitely a head turner.

The Supplicant (La Suppliante, 1937) – Seeing this painting, you immediately see the despair and the terror as the woman throws her hands to the heavens. With exposed breast and dishevelment, you see in this figure fear and confusion. Painted the same year as Guernica, both paintings are a commentary on the violence of war and how people are impacted by it.

The Picasso. Figures exhibit is one of those things that you would be lucky to experience once in a lifetime. To have the chance to see such historic artwork by a master of the modern age, it is truly worth a trip to Nashville. Be aware that the tickets are timed and must be bought in advance. They are available at the Frist Art Museum website.

Teresa Filgis reviews restaurants and other businesses for Main Street Clarksville. She is a native Clarksvillian and has worked in the Clarksville restaurant and food scene for more than 20 years. She can be reached at

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