Picasso’s visit to Beirut

Picasso’s paintings and drawings tend to agglomerate sensuality and tenderness despite the portrayed subjects’ sorrow and poverty.
by Christy-Belle Geha

5 October 2019 | 14:56

Source: by Annahar

  • by Christy-Belle Geha
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 5 October 2019 | 14:56

Pablo Picasso. Françoise, Claude, Paloma : la lecture et les jeux. II [Françoise, Claude, Paloma: reading and games], Paris, 16 January 1953. Etching, aquatint, and scraper on copper. Third state. Proof by Lacourière, 33,5 × 48,4 cm. Musée national Picasso-Paris. Dation Pablo Picasso, 1979. MP3009. © RMN-Grand Palais. © Succession Picasso 2019

BEIRUT: Picasso and his family are visiting Beirut and are staying until January 6, 2020 at Sursock Museum.

“Picasso and the Family” exhibition will be hosting some of Picasso’s major artwork (1881-1973). It aims at mirroring the Spanish painter’s relationship to the notion of the family.

The exhibition is supported by the Lebanese Ministry of Culture and the Musée National Picasso, Paris. It is also part of “Picasso-Méditerranée,” an initiative running in more than seventy cultural institutions from Spring 2017 to Spring 2019.

In the two-room exhibition, visitors are first taken back to Picasso’s “Origins,” then they are faced with the “Tumults” he lived through, and finally, they are granted access to the “Games” he used to enjoy playing with his four children.

The walls of the museum are painted with numerous fictional families and Picasso’s familial photographs.

“Picasso never went to Middle East. He was not a traveler. Yet, a lot of documents in his private archives and correspondences testify to a special interest to the richness of ‘oriental’ patterns and ‘art de vivre’,” said Camille Frasca, curator and project manager at the Musée National Picasso, Paris.

Picasso’s developed an interest in arts when he was just a child.

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up,” Picasso once said.

Growing into an adolescent, he started developing affection for women and became surrounded by modernity and a surfeit of paintings from the 19th century. All the former oriented him towards his artistic identification after moving to Paris in 1900.

Picasso’s paintings and drawings tend to agglomerate sensuality and tenderness despite the portrayed subjects’ sorrow and poverty.

In the exhibition’s “Origins” section, “The reading of the letter” (1921) shows two male figures - brothers or friends - that somehow depict the paternal duties Picasso started to commit to after the birth of his first son Paulo in 1921.

One of the sculptures featured in the next section of the exhibition is “Couple” (1930), Picasso’s sculpture of the sensual fusion of two beings. The sculpture was created as a reaction to the struggle the artist went through between his marriage and his adulterous passion. The struggle came as a result of meeting Marie-Thérèse Walter, who inspired him to become interested in fertility and sexuality.

The exhibition takes visitors on a tour in Picasso’s life and mirrors his relation to the family.

In 1935, Picasso had his second child, Maya, from his new partner. A year later, Picasso befriended Dora Maar and she became the coveted woman while Maya and Marie-Thérèse became the family haven.

As much as he considered family to be linked by blood ties and flirtatious encounters, his motherland’s political conflicts and the anguish he had for losing loved ones haunted him. Despite this, he always searched for spontaneity and children tenderness.

His family circle further extended with the birth of Claude in 1947 and Paloma in 1949. He produced a series of sculptures about pregnant women (1948-1951). Those are also showing at Sursock Museum.

After separating from Françoise, he moved with Jacqueline Roque to Cannes in 1955 and the two married in 1961.

“The real events were never that far, but he always put reality aside to have a general point of view and to let the aesthetics reflection take the lead,” noted Frasca to Annahar.

“I loved that Picasso’s last work on motherhood was also featured in the collection. Also, I was impressed by the variety of media used such as collage and family videos and photographs," Joseph Ayoub, a visitor, told Annahar. 

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