This book was published to accompany the exhibition “Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective”, shown May 22-September 16, 1980 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition was organized to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the museum. At the time it was put on this exhibition, not surprisingly, set attendance records at MOMA.The paperback edition which I have is typical of such books issued in conjunction with a major art exhibit. It’s large (about 9 x 11 inches), thick (450+ pages) and heavy (over 4 pounds). It’s definitely a “coffee table” book – just the sort of book that a guest, left alone for a few moments, might relish picking up and perusing (assuming one’s living room was not dominated by a powered up television). This is not a “reading” book, not a Picasso appreciation book. There are actually very few words in the book other than the captions to the illustrations, and the introductory “chronologies” (very nice, by the way, and prepared by Jane Fluegel) for each of the sixteen periods which the exhibit’s curators (William Rubin gets top billing) divided Picasso’s creative life into. These periods run consecutively from 1881-1899 (the second longest) to the last and longest, 1954-1973. Four intense periods of Picassos work cover a mere two years each: 1900-1901, 1902-1903, 1907-1908 and 1912-1913. Good points? The sheer number of illustrations of Picasso’s works contained in the book, and the detailed information about each contained in the caption. As to number, I estimate about a thousand illustrations. In most captions (I can’t vouch for all) the information given includes: name of the work; where Picasso was when he created it (Paris, Boisgeloup, etc.); the year, and sometimes more detailed dating; the medium (oil on canvas, etc.); the dimensions of the work (both inches and cm); entry numbers in various catalogues raisonnes (primarily Zervos) where available for the work; and the owner of the work (Guggenheim Museum, Private Collection, etc.).Another plus is the fact that many of the illustrations are large enough that they occupy a page by themselves. So we’re definitely not talking here about a book filled with hundreds of teensy pictures.Less than optimal points? First, for me, the lack of an index. I appreciate the fact that an exhaustive index would have added many, many pages to the book. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that the illustrations are arranged in chronological order, if one wants to see The Old Guitarist, even find out whether it’s depicted in the book, it’s irritating to have to know, first, when it was created (1903) and then look in that chapter of the book to find if it’s there (it is). And of course, if one only knows the name, but not what the work actually looks like, one is reduced to looking at the titles given in the captions, and not simply at the pictures.Another problematic point is that although perhaps 200 of the illustrations are in color, hundreds are not. Certainly, pen and ink drawings require no color; but even paintings from Picasso’s Blue Period, which often are close to monochromatic works, cannot be appreciated at all in a black and white illustration. The Old Guitarist is a case in point. Take a look at the Wiki illustrationand compare it with this, from the book:Bottom line? Although the book is, to my knowledge, out of print, both used and new copies are readily available. Given that, and despite the drawbacks mentioned, I recommend that if you are looking for a picture book of Picasso’s art, covering his entire creative life, you should certainly consider this book. It may not be the best choice for you, but unless you know of something else that you think is very nearly perfect, you should look at this before making a decision.