Global art world salutes Picasso half a century after his death

·2-min read
© AFP/Thomas Coex

The "Year of Picasso" initiative will see more than 40 exhibitions held across Europe and the United States in honour of the Spanish artist, 50 years after his death in the south of France.

From Madrid's Prado museum to the Pompidou Centre in Paris and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, 38 major art museums will stage 42 exhibitions from September 2022 and throughout 2023.

The aim is to "show off all the facets" of Pablo Picasso, said French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak at a press conference unveiling the programme earlier this week.

Picasso was born in the Spanish city of Malaga in 1881 and died in Mougins on the French Riviera on 8 April 1973.

The celebrations will begin on 23 September at Madrid's Mapfre Foundation and will run until April 2024 with a closing exhibit at the Petit Palais in Paris.

European focus

Most events will take place in Spain and France, with others held in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Romania and Belgium. A series of talks about Picasso and his work will also be organised.

​​​​​The 12 events in France will take place at museums across the country, including in Paris, Lyon and Avignon.

"We want to present Picasso exactly how he was" by highlighting his "artistic legacy" and the "permanence of his work", said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Picasso's art continues to resonate today said Abdul Malak, who called the artist's 1937 masterpiece Guernica "a manifesto for peace".

The painting immortalises the massacre in the Basque town of Guernica, bombed by the Nazi air force in support of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

This plea "takes on a special connotation" at a time "when war is raging at the gates of Europe and when we stand by the Ukrainian people", the French culture minister commented, referring to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Beyond the political and historical references, the retrospectives will also be an opportunity to look at the artist's excesses and contradictions, organisers said.

The image of Picasso, long deified for his artistic genius, has been tarnished for several years by accusations of misogyny and violence towards his female companions, which have come under the spotlight since the #MeToo movement.

The artist, who spent most of his life in France, was notably accused by journalist Sophie Chauveau in her book Picasso, le Minotaure of being a "jealous", "perverse" and "destructive" man.

"It is important for the public to know Picasso better and also to know the violence that was in him. It is something that should not be hidden," said Abdul Malak, who said it was nonetheless important "not to reduce all of Picasso's work" to this subject.

(with wires)