Geniuses and Masterpieces V.

Picasso in Love

1 August 2006 - 1 September 2006

In the fifth act of the Geniuses and Masterpieces exhibition series celebrating the museum's centennial, the chamber exhibition arranged presents the most famous artist of the 20th century, and without a doubt, one of the most contradictory, by way of his lovers.

At the focus of the show is his painting entitled Reading Material, lent by the Picasso Museum in Paris, which Picasso painted in 1932 of Marie-Thérèse Walter. Despite the characteristic, Cubist distortions, the painter presents his beloved as in a portrait. In the features of her face, two views – the profile and the frontal view – converge, while the interplay of forms and the lines constituting the composition follows the arc of the profile and contours of the young girl. Marie-Thérèse always remained Picasso's muse, although it was only twenty years later, following the death of the painter's wife, Olga Koklova, that he could ask for the girl's hand, though she, as she felt the gesture to be late in coming, declined the proposal.

Picasso's every period was connected with the appearance of each new woman, as if his life's oeuvre were the equivalent of a kind of mirror-image of external events. Thus, Picasso's first Parisian love, Madeleine, appears in the exhibition as a mother, as well as Picasso's first living companion, Fernande Olivier, with whom his companionship and complicity persisted for a lifetime. As a characteristic example of the turning point at which Picasso complemented his Modernism after 1917 with the stylistic marks of Classicism, the painter's wife is on view, the Russian ballerina, Olga Koklova.

As he painted Marie-Thérèse Walter most often asleep, with closed eyes, his other lover, the photographer Dora Maar, the crying woman suffering from attacks of hysteria, was for him the symbol of war and embodied anguish. In 1943, Picasso made the acquaintance of the young painter, Françoise Gilot, with whom he had two children during their relationship spanning a decade, and the double portrait of Claude and Paloma is also on view in the exhibition. Concluding the series of Picasso's lovers are the drawings that depict the last wife of the master, who was almost eighty at the time: Jacquelin Roque, who was forty-five years his junior.

The exhibition organised around the portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter is complemented by graphic works from the Museum's own collection, as well as those lent from public collections from abroad: the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, and the Picasso Museum in Paris, thus providing the most complete picture possible of the muses of the genius who never found acquiescence.

Curators of the exhibition: Judit Geskó and Márton Orosz

The exhibition was sponsored by Sofitel.