The first major, retrospective-style exhibition of its kind in nearly 50 years, MoMA's upcoming Picasso sculpture exhibit is a must-see for fans of the iconic artist. Spread out across the museum's 4th floor, over 120 pieces (50 of which were loaned from Paris's Musée Picasso) offer a glimpse of the famous artist's work.

The sculptures span most of Picasso's active artistic life, from 1902-1964, during which time he worked with materials like sheet metal, bronze, wood, terracotta, and plaster. They're vividly textured and disparate in shape; gaseous bulbs spout from half-human faces in some pieces, while others are made up of nothing but harsh, angular iron wires. There are paint smears and messy welding lines. Light on color, the works offer little beauty but are fascinating in their contortions of the human form. Many of Picasso's painting practices made it into his sculpting; at the exhibit you'll find warped noses and plenty of strange cubist guitars.

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Violin (Scott Heins/Gothamist

While he was classically trained in painting, sculpture was an extra-curricular for Picasso; the medium was one he would pick up for intense periods and then set aside for years at a stretch, only to return to it with new ideas and fresh materials once again. Each room at the MoMA exhibit houses a specific moment in Picasso's artistic life. The show greets you with simple bronze faces, then turns cubist and keeps changing, again and again. Works from his World War II years center around death and skulls; in his later pieces childhood toys are used to construct whole bodies and faces.

MoMA has been careful not to get in the way of Picasso's greatness; the exhibition's fixtures are plain, with podiums strewn about each gallery. The only exception is a low box of gravel that houses The Bathers sculptures— Picasso's only multi-figured sculpture assemblage, this piece contains six tall wooden figures, each in a gnarled state of construction. MoMA's curatorial staff has stressed that sculpture's quickness was liberating for Picasso, who had to spend hours preparing canvases before he could even begin to paint.

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The Bathers (Scott Heins/Gothamist)

Sculpture, on the other hand, offered more instant gratification, and in The Bathers a sense of rapt, sweaty creation is absolutely vivid. These six figures, sourced from lumbar yard scraps, look unfinished but not incomplete. Some even appear as busted easels with frames knocked sideway. The obvious climax of the entire MoMA show, The Bathers makes it obvious what kind of escape Picasso found in sculpture—a freedom of immediate action.

Strange, creative, and at times a bit unsettling, Picasso's works are pure expressions of himself, and the exhibit offers us a chance to get to know him a little better in three-dimensional space.

The exhibit opens September 14th (Preview September 10-13 for MoMA Members) // Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd Street, Manhattan // Admission $14-25