Over half a million people visited Matisse Picasso, making it the most popular ever in the Tate Gallery’s history*. 467,166 tickets were sold through the box office and some 40,000 people have attended events outside of gallery hours. The special 36 hour opening to complete the run of the exhibition was attended by 16,775 visitors and included talks in the gallery by jazz legend George Melly, Elizabeth Cowling, curator of the exhibition, and art historian and television presenter Tim Marlow.
The exhibition is a collaboration between Tate, the Réunion des musées nationaux/Musée Picasso with the Musée national d’art moderne/Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. It will open at the Grand Palais in Paris on the 25 September (until 6 January 2003) before moving to New York where it opens at The Museum of Modern Art on 13 February 2003 (until 19 May 2003).
Matisse and Picasso are the acknowledged twin giants of modern art, between them having originated many of the most significant innovations of twentieth-century painting and sculpture. This major exhibition explores their relationship, which is revealed as much closer and more complex than has been thought. In spite of their initial rivalry, each came to acknowledge the other as his only true equal. In old age they became increasingly close personally, and increasingly important to each other artistically.
Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, commented on the exhibition:
This is a fantastic end to the exhibition. The huge numbers are an indication that while Matisse and Picasso are clearly popular, this show in particular has been a revelation. We are fortunate to have been able to work with the national galleries in Paris and New York and I am confident that it will be equally popular in both those cities.
- 25,000 people had booked advance tickets before the exhibition opened in May
- Anticipating the popularity of the exhibition, two-thirds of visitors booked their tickets in advance
- The exhibition was open for 100 days and was visited by an average of 5,000 people a day
- The exhibition was open late night until 22.00 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then every night from 1 August, giving visitors increased opportunities to see the exhibition
- Over 100,000 people saw Matisse Picasso during a late night opening
- 24,100 catalogues, written by the six international curators of the exhibition, including the two British curators John Golding and Elizabeth Cowling, have been sold at Tate Modern
- Some 400,000 exhibition postcards have been sold on site. The most popular postcards were Matisse’s Flowing Hair and Blue Nude I and Picasso’s Still Life with Pitcher and Apples.
*the second most popular exhibition was the Cézanne exhibition of 1996 which was visited by 406,000 people