Have you ever seen America’s largest Picasso painting? On May 17 a score of art handlers completed the epic installation of Picasso’s 96-year-old stage curtain from Le Tricorne ballet in our N-YHS gallery. The rideau de scène hung in the iconic Four Seasons Restaurant for nearly six decades before it was moved to an art conservation facility in Williamstown, MA, earlier this year. In preparation for its New-York Historical arrival, nearby tree limbs were cut and intricate scaffolding was built. Finally, a crane triumphantly hoisted a 23-foot long tube housing the priceless artifact through a second-floor gallery window into its new home. Over the course of hours, the “Le Tricorne” was then carefully unfurled. The curtain is the centerpiece of Picasso’s “Le Tricorne” opening today. The exhibition showcases the curtain in dialogue with both European and American works.
With a bottle of wine in hand, Picasso spent three weeks painting the 19- by 20-foot curtain in a London studio. “Le Tricorne” was performed later that year in 1919 by the famed Ballets Russes company. Although Picasso painted stage curtains for nine ballets over the course of his prolific career, the “Le Tricorne” was his “supreme theatrical achievement.” Just nine years later, however, Ballets Russes founder Serge Diaghilev cut out the center scene of Picasso’s curtain (fittingly a Spanish bullring) to finance future shows. Today, the cut-out is all that remains of Picasso’s masterpiece. The exhibition runs through the summer—so don’t miss out. Watch a video of the curtain’s installation below and then come see it for yourself!