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MADRID (Reuters) - Madrid's Reina Sofia museum is about to open one of the most extensive Picasso exhibitions as it hosts works on loan from the National Picasso Museum in Paris to add to those already on view in the Spanish capital.
Beginning on Wednesday, the Reina Sofia will show more than 400 paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings, notebooks, ceramic art and even 20 photographs ranging from the legendary Spanish artist's first portraits at the end of the 19th century to work from late 1972, shortly before his death in 1973.
The Reina Sofia contemporary art museum has been able to add to its stock of works by Pablo Picasso due to building work at the Musee National Picasso in Paris. A Spanish government grant of 3.5 million euros ($5.2 million) also made the exhibition possible.
The museum will house the loaned exhibits in three halls usually dedicated to temporary exhibitions and alongside works in the permanent collection such as "Guernica," the emblematic painting depicting the horrors of Spain's 1936-39 civil war.
"This is the only one (exhibition) which shows his work from start to finish and across the range of works," Anne Baldassari, director of the Picasso Museum in Paris, told journalists on Monday.
"It presents a previously unseen concept of Picasso," she added. "It has not been done before and will never be able to be done again."
The exhibition is divided into four periods. The first, from 1895-1924, covers Picasso's first portraits, cubist and neo-classical works including "The Death of Casagemas," one of the first in his "blue period."
The second period, 1924-1935, includes several surrealist sculptures by the artist born in the southern city of Malaga in 1881, such as "Heads" and "Bust of a Woman."
The 1933-1951 period places some of Picasso's most famous works in the context of his preoccupation with the civil war, like "Woman Crying" and "The Supplicant."
The final 1947-1972 period covers exhibits ranging from "Picasso's version of pop art," in the words of museum curator Baldassari, to ceramics and sketchbooks.
Reporting by Teresa Larraz