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Nashville, TN

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Picasso. Figures from Musée national Picasso-Paris
February 5 –May 2, 2021

20th Anniversary Year

The Frist Art Museum will kick off its 20th anniversary with Picasso. Figures, an exhibition from the incomparable collection of the Musée national Picasso-Paris. The exhibition offers an in-depth look at Pablo Picasso’s career-long fascination with the human figure as a means of expressing a range of subjects and emotions. Featuring approximately 75 paintings, works on paper, and sculptures, Picasso. Figures will make its sole U.S. appearance in Nashville in the Frist’s Ingram Gallery from February 5 through May 2, 2021. Information about advance timed tickets will be available at FristArtMuseum.org on January 18, 2021.

Highlights of the exhibition include masterpieces from Picasso’s various styles and periods, as well as more intimate works that provide fresh insights into his innovative practice. “Viewers will see how, as Picasso continuously deconstructed and then remade the body, he was also recasting the history of figuration as a combination of his own psychological view of humanity and observations about the disruptive nature of life in the 20th century,” says Frist Art Museum chief curator Mark Scala.

“We are delighted to work with the Musée national Picasso-Paris—the home of the world’s largest and most comprehensive public collection of works by the iconic artist—to bring Picasso. Figures to Nashville,” says Frist Art Museum director and CEO Susan H. Edwards. “Through the extraordinary generosity and support of our community for almost 20 years now, we have been able to deliver on our mission to present world-class exhibitions in Nashville. For many years, we have been looking for a Picasso show of this caliber, and we are thrilled that during our 20th anniversary we will be able to share this astonishing collection with our city and everyone who will travel to see it.”

The works in Picasso. Figures range from geometric abstractions of the human body to emotionally charged depictions of family, friends, and lovers, illustrating Picasso’s career, offering a panoramic summary of his wide-ranging creativity while providing glimpses of his tumultuous relationships with his wives, mistresses, muses, and models. The focus then shifts to Picasso’s renowned cubist period of the early 20th century. Of particular interest are works that demonstrate the powerful influence of African and Iberian art on this radical style, in which perceptions of time, space, and reality are altered in ways that embody the ideal of artistic freedom manifested by artists of the period. Continuing through the exhibition, visitors will encounter paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that reflect Picasso’s experiments with a variety of styles, including surrealism, neoclassicism, and expressionism. Picasso. Figures culminates in late works, characterized by vivid colors, exuberant brushstrokes, and playful twists on the old masters, showing that Picasso’s endless desire to reinvent painting continued until the end of his life.

“The selection of the Frist in Nashville as the only U.S. venue for this show is a wonderful testament to our city’s growing national and international stature as a cultural destination,” says Edwards. “We are grateful to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp for their support of Picasso. Figures.”

“The Frist Art Museum is a critical part of the city’s cultural landscape,” says Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “Given the issues we have all faced since March of this year, we look forward to welcoming this world-class exhibition to our own Frist Art Museum in 2021. Our city remains a prime destination for travelers from around the country and across the world, and with Nashville as the sole U.S. venue, we certainly anticipate that many people will see this exhibition as an excellent reason to visit our city.”

Exhibition Credit
Picasso. Figures is organized in collaboration with the Musée national Picasso-Paris. It was conceived and organized by Emilia Philippot, curator, and François Dareau, associate curator, Musée national Picasso-Paris.

Liliana Porter: Man with Axe and Other Stories
Feb 5–May 2, 2021

Argentina-born artist Liliana Porter’s provocative arrangements of objects and toys tell stories that are at once psychologically charged and slyly humorous. The centerpiece of the exhibition, Man with Axe, features a tiny plastic figure of an axe-wielding man who appears to have demolished an array of items, from dollhouse furniture to large vases, clocks, and even a full-size piano. This trail of destruction signals both the entropic effects of time and the collapse of historical progress that can be caused by a single agent of chaos. In Man with Axe, Porter (b. 1941) asks big questions: Who are we? What do we do? What’s it about?

A Landmark Repurposed celebrates the historic building that the Frist Art Museum is privileged to occupy—Nashville’s former main post office.
Jan 8, 2021–Jan 9, 2022
Conte Community Arts Gallery

Commemorating the Frist’s 20th anniversary, this reimagined exhibition with updated design and expanded narrative highlights the building’s role as a civic institution, from its creation as the city’s main post office in 1934 to its reopening as an art museum on April 8, 2001. Through archival images, architectural drawings, “Then and Now” photographs, news clippings, and original planning documents, guests will learn about the building’s distinctive architectural styles, as well as how historical events affected the construction and function of the post office. The exhibition will also address how buildings can be repurposed, making connections with American Art Deco: Designing for the People, which will be on view in the Ingram Gallery from October 8, 2021, through January 2, 2022.

Constructed in 1933–34 under the direction of local firm Marr & Holman, the building was financed by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Construction. Following guidelines from the Office of the Supervising Architect, the building displays the two most distinctive architectural styles of the period: “starved” or “stripped” classicism and art deco.

During the Depression, architects working for the federal government were expected to express in their buildings the values of permanence, stability, and order—values that a classical style had traditionally embodied—but in forms streamlined to suggest progress and simplified to lower production costs. Inside, cast aluminum doors and grillwork, as well as colored marble and stones on the floors and walls, follow the more decorative trend commonly known as art deco, which had developed in commercial interiors during the 1920s.

The building has long been central to the life of the city. During its construction, unemployed workers gathered by the hundreds at the building site, seeking jobs. World War II soldiers sent last letters to loved ones before boarding trains next door at Union Station on their way to the European front. Every April, long lines of last-minute tax filers formed, with postal workers sometimes accepting the returns in the street.

In 1984, the post office building was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places. Two years later, however, a new main postal distribution center was constructed on Royal Parkway, near Nashville International Airport, and much of the old building was no longer needed. After years of deliberation and with community demand, a solution for the building’s future was determined. Through a unique public-private partnership between Metro Nashville government and Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr., the building would be transformed into a visual arts center.

Tuck-Hinton Architects of Nashville guided the preservation of the post office building’s architectural details and spirit. The original pine floors were taken up, refinished, and reinstalled, and the huge high-ceilinged sorting rooms in the center of the original facility were naturally suited to their new role as spacious exhibition galleries. The former skylight in the center of the building, previously covered in the 1950s, had its function resurrected in the new design, accompanied by clerestory windows that now light the atrium and the grand staircases.

The building began its second life as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts on April 8, 2001, with the mission to present and originate high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Since opening, the Frist has hosted artists and artworks from collections around the world and invited Nashville’s community members and visitors to share in its vision of inspiring people through art to look at the world in new ways. On April 2, 2018, the name was formally changed to the Frist Art Museum to convey more clearly what visitors can expect when entering the building.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum


Exhibition Catalogue
A twentieth-anniversary edition of the exhibition catalogue, now titled A Landmark Repurposed: From Post Office to Art Museum, will be published this spring. To be notified when it becomes available, please contact giftshop@FristArtMuseum.org.

The volume will feature a preface by Billy Frist, chair and president of the Frist Art Museum board of trustees, and an epilogue by Susan H. Edwards, Frist Art Museum executive director and CEO.

The contents from the original book include historian Christine Kreyling’s essay about our landmark building and its position within Nashville’s architectural history. This revised edition was designed and produced by renowned art book publisher Lucia | Marquand.


The Frist Art Museum gratefully acknowledges the generosity of our O’Keeffe Circle members in funding this exhibition:

Judy and Joe Barker
Patricia Frist Elcan and Charles A. Elcan
Jennifer and Billy Frist
Julie and Tommy Frist
Patricia C. Frist and Thomas F. Frist, Jr., MD
R. Milton and Denice Johnson
Neil Krugman and Lee Pratt
Sid and Linda Pilson
Delphine and Ken Roberts
Anne and Joe Russell
Mr. and Mrs. James C. Seabury III
Olivia Tyson

This list is current as of November 13, 2020.

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