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A detail from Le Baiser (The Kiss) Mougins, October 26, 1969 oil on canvas 38 1/4 X 51 1/4

Picasso at Art Gallery of Ontario

King Tut rules still at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto but gallery officials also are feeling pretty good these days about Pablo Picasso. Thursday the AGO announced that its recently completed Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National, Paris exhibition drew almost 310,000 visitors during its 17-week run.

Not enough to depose Tutankhamun as the gallery's attendance champion, but sufficient for the AGO to claim Picasso as its fourth-highest-attended show in its 112-year history. The AGO has hosted two exhibitions devoted to the Egyptian boy-pharaoh – the first, a 24-week epic in 1979, drew an estimated 800,000 attendees, still the record; the second, another 24-week showcase in 2009-10, lured more than 400,000 visitors, the AGO's third-highest audience favourite. Second-place finisher remains an exhibition of works by Matisse, Cezanne, Seurat, Renoir and others from the Barnes Collection in Pennsylvania. Held in 1994, it enjoyed more than 600,000 visitors.

The Picasso, which opened its exclusive Canadian run May 1 and closed Aug. 26, featured 141 paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints and mixed-media works by the Spanish-born master (1881-1973). Its busiest day was Aug. 22, a Wednesday, when almost 6,100 visitors bought tickets.

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James More


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