Everyone's a Critic: Met Visitor Falls On, Rips Picasso

$130M masterpiece can be fixed, museum officials say

By Greg Wilson
|  Monday, Jan 25, 2010  |  Updated 3:28 PM CDT
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Everyone's a Critic: Met Visitor Falls On, Rips Picasso

Picasso's The Actor

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A Picasso valued at $130 million has to undergo repairs after a visitor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art tripped and fell into it, ripping a six-inch gash in the canvas.

The unidentified woman was near the master's "The Actor" Friday when she tumbled into it, museum spokeswoman Elyse Topalian told Bloomberg News. The six-foot by four-foot painting, which depicts a gangly man in a pink costume, was hanging on the museum's second floor in a display of the Spanish artist's works.

"A visitor attending a class lost her balance, falling onto Picasso's "The Actor," a large, Rose-period painting that was painted in winter 1904-1905," a statement from the museum said. "The accident resulted in an irregular vertical tear of about six inches in length in the lower right-hand corner."

The Picasso has been removed from the gallery and taken to the museum’s conservation studio for “assessment and treatment,” the statement said. Because the tear occurred in the lower portion of the canvas, the repair is expected to be “unobtrusive,” according to the museum.

The painting, created in 1904-05, has been owned by the museum since automobile heiress Thelma Chrysler Foy donated it in 1952. It is considered important because  it inaugurated the artist's "shift from the Blue-period world of tattered beggars and blind musicianns to the Rose-period imagery of itinerant acrobats dressed in costumes," the museum statement said.

Another Picasso, the 1932 "Le Reve," was damaged by casino mogul Steve Wynn in 2006. Wynn, who was preparing to sell the artwork, accidentally tore a hole in it with his elbow. He had it fixed and kept it.

"The Actor" is expected to be repaired in time to go on display as part of a 250-painting Picasso exhibit that opens April 27.

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