One would expect that a monumental exhibit such as that of Pablo Picasso‘s Philippine debut would be accompanied by years of preparation and much pomp and fanfare. After all, Picasso is one of the world’s most important visual artists of the 20th century, and the Philippines is a country starved of exhibitions of such proportions. It is ironic, then, that the staging of the exhibit Suite Vollard—one of Picasso’s most important collections, preceding his world-famous Civil War piece, Guernica—took all of six weeks and happened purely by accident.
A serendipitous start According to Chaco Molina, Executive Director of the Fundación Santiago, which co-organized the exhibit with insurance giant MAPFRE and the Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines, the exhibit that was supposed to be launched at the Met in November was a series of photographs by Spanish and Filipino photographers depicting Filipina women from the 19th century to the present. Entitled Mujeres Filipinas, the exhibit was composed of pieces to be collected from different photographers and subjects. However, several weeks before the exhibit was set to open in Manila, Fundación MAPFRE called Chaco to inform him that it was impossible to meet the deadline.
“They realized that they couldn’t bring it (to the Philippines) on time because it wasn’t their collection,” Chaco recounts, “Then they asked us, ‘Would you settle for our own collection of a hundred prints of Picasso’?”
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