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Torn Picasso to be repaired

Monday, January 25, 2010
A picture of The Actor before it was damaged.

A picture of "The Actor" before it was damaged.

A Picasso painting damaged when a woman lost her balance and fell on the canvas last week will be repaired in time for an exhibition of the artist's works in April, the Metropolitan Museum of Art said Monday.

"The Actor," a painting from Picasso's rose period, will be restored at the museum's conservation laboratory, the Met said.

The accident has also led museum director Thomas P. Campbell to request a review of relevant policies and procedures, spokeswoman Elyse Topalian said.

The museum described the damage as an irregular 6-inch tear to the lower right-hand corner of the painting. Conservation and curatorial experts "fully expect" that the restoration "will be unobtrusive," the museum said in a statement Sunday.

The artwork is nearly 6 by 4 feet and depicts a standing acrobat in a pink costume and blue knee-high boots striking a pose against an abstracted backdrop.

The restoration will be done in the coming weeks, and the piece will be displayed as planned in an exhibition of 250 Picasso works drawn from the museum's collection, from April 27 to Aug. 1, the museum said.

The accident occurred in a second-floor gallery of early Picasso works when a patron participating in one of the museum's art classes lost her balance and fell on the canvas, the museum said. She was one of 14 people in the guided group.

It happened during regular visiting hours when other visitors were in the gallery. People who attend the art classes typically roam through the museum in a group stopping in front of works of interest.

"The Actor" was donated to the Met in 1952 by art patron Thelma Chrysler Foy, the elder daughter of auto magnate Walter Chrysler. The museum said it had been included in many major exhibitions of Picasso's works both in the United States and in Europe.

Picasso painted the work in the winter of 1904-05. It marked a transition from his blue period of tattered beggars and blind musicians to his more optimistic and brighter-colored rose period of itinerant acrobats in costume.

In 2001, another Picasso was accidentally damaged during a private showing of the artist's "Le Reve." The artwork's owner, casino mogul Steve Wynn, was showing the work - a portrait of Picasso's mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, to a group of friends in Las Vegas when he inadvertently poked a thumb-size hole in the canvas with his elbow.

The accident occurred just after Wynn had negotiated a deal to sell the painting for $139 million.

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