The Los Angeles Times takes the case of its corporate art collection, once an integral part of the powerful paper’s identity, in general, and this set of Picasso lithographs, particular, to chart the fortunes of the paper over the last few years.
Works by 20th century artists Picasso, Rufino Tamayo, Helen Frankenthaler, Milton Avery, Richard Diebenkorn, Isamu Noguchi, Ellsworth Kelly, Saul Steinberg, Claes Oldenburg and many others were put on display in 1973 with the opening of the Times Mirror Building, which adjoined the existing newspaper headquarters. […] Corporate dining rooms were named after artists — Picasso, Tamayo and Steinberg — whose works hung in them. The five Picasso lithographs were from a 29-piece set of his artwork that had been on display.“ The Picasso Room was exclusive — you had to be an officer in the corporation, a high-up editor to go there,” said Roger Smith, who joined the newspaper in 1977, later became national editor and left in 2013. “I don’t think I got Picasso privileges until the 1990s. It was, ‘Oh wow, I’ve kind of arrived.’”
As print and the media’s fortunes waned and the paper was sold from owner to owner, valuable assets that were not central to the corporate mission, like the art collection, were sold. These Picasso prints are not particularly valuable. But they once had a pride of place and, as the story tells us, disappeared from a prominent conference room some time along the way.
Five Picassos went missing from the L.A. Times. What happened to them? (Los Angeles Times)