INAUGURATION OF THE MUSEO PICASSO MÁLAGA (MPM) ON MONDAY 27 OCTOBER
Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain presided the event accompanied by the President of the Regional Government of Andalusia, Manuel Chaves.
The Permanent Collection holds 155 works by Pablo Picasso donated by Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, who have loaned a further 49 works for a renewable ten-year period. Bernard Ruiz-Picasso and the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte have lent a further 40 works by Picasso for one year, to be exhibited with the Collection. El Picasso de los Picasso (The Picasso’s Picassos), the MPM’s first temporary exhibition, complements the Museum’s opening show.
On Monday 27 October, Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain, together with Manuel Chaves, President of the Regional Government of Andalusia";" Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, daughter-in-law and grandson of the artist";" Carmen Calvo, Minister for Culture of the Regional Government of Andalusia, MPM director Carmen Giménez, and most members of the Picasso family–an event in itself-among other personalities, opened the Museo Picasso Málaga, housed in the Palacio de Buenavista. This 16th century building, which combines Renaissance and Mudejar elements, holds the Museum’s permanent collection consisting of 204 works by Pablo Picasso (Malaga, 1881-Mougins, 1973), the 20th century’s most influential artist. A further 40 works, dated between 1901 and 1972, have been lent by Bernard Ruiz-Picasso and the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, and are also on view.
The temporary exhibition galleries were also inaugurated, with the first show organized by the MPM: “El Picasso de los Picasso”. It is comprised of 87 works from the Picasso Museums in Antibes, Barcelona and Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Beyeler Foundation and private collections, an exhibition that rounds up the new Museum’s offering.
The origin of the Museo Picasso Málaga can be traced back to two important exhibitions which attracted great national and international attention: Picasso clásico, held in 1992, and Picasso. Primera mirada. Colección Christine Ruiz-Picasso in 1994, which were sponsored by the Regional Government of Andalusia and organised by Carmen Giménez. At this time, Christine Ruiz-Picasso, wife of Paul, the eldest son of Picasso, first started to consider the possibility of setting a significant representation of Picasso’s work in Malaga. She was soon seconded by her son Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, grandson of the artist, as they were both convinced that Picasso would have wanted a permanent exhibition space for his work in his native city. This initiative was welcomed with enthusiasm by the Regional Government of Andalusia, who started to put together an ambitious and complex project and to look for a place where such a significant legacy of Picasso’s works could be exhibited in the best conditions possible. It was the first impulse in a project, which today is a reality: the Museo Picasso Málaga. The Regional Government of Andalusia has invested 66 million euros in the creation of the Museum.
Like all great projects, cultural or other, this Museum would not have been possible without the determined compromise of a group of people headed by Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso";" the President of the Regional Government of Andalusia, and its Minister for Culture, Carmen Calvo, who offered a wholehearted political, financial and logistic support";" Carmen Giménez, Director of the Museum and bearer of extensive international experience";" and the trustees of the two Foundations that have watched over the first steps of the new museum exclusively dedicated to Pablo Picasso and destined to become another important focus of his work, along with Barcelona and Paris.
The Museum’s Collection comprises a total 204 works, which have been generously donated or loaned for a renewable ten year period by Christine and her son, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso. It encompasses works from the end of the 19th century till 1972, allowing us to contemplate the artistic evolution of the creator of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Picasso’s daughter-in-law has donated 133 works: 14 oil paintings, 9 sculptures, 44 drawings, 58 prints, 7 ceramics and a sketchbook from the Royan series containing a further 36 drawings. For his part, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso has donated 22 works: 5 oil paintings, 2 drawings, 10 prints and 5 ceramics. In addition, an agreement has been made with the two heirs for the free renewable ten-year loan of 49 more works: 23 oil paintings, 2 sculptures, 7 drawings, 5 prints and 12 ceramics.
The collection is exhibited in twelve rooms in the Palacio de Buenavista, starting with Woman with Mantilla, 1894, oil on canvas by a teenage Picasso who already shows full proficiency in the plastic language of his day. After his stays in Barcelona and Madrid, young Picasso moves to Paris, where he is in touch with the avant-gardes and starts forging his own style, producing dazzling creations in his Blue and Pink periods, as a prelude to a new movement which was to be decisive in his work and in his contemporaries’: Cubism.
Picasso embarks with Georges Braque on this experiment, which was to be one of the most ground-breaking innovations in the history of Western painting. The new style defies traditional Renaissance perspective and creates a paradoxical space where musical instruments, bottles and people merge. Picasso found in collage a way of turning his poetic visions into something real, as can be observed in Bottle of Bass, Guitar, Newspaper and Glass on a Square Table, 1913-1914, a drawing that illustrates how collage transformed Cubism.
After years of disciplined work with Cubism, Picasso began to explore a range of traditional subjects and languages, as can be seen in Olga Kokhlova with Mantilla (1917), an important example of Picasso’s realism, which he tinted with an artificial atmosphere.
In Mother and Child, c. 1921-1922, we witness the artist’s happiness at the birth of his first child, but he gives the scene an almost ceremonial feeling, with sculptural figures that represent an eternal archetype, whereas in Portrait of Paulo with a White Cap, 1923, a portrait inspired by a photograph of his son in a park, he manages to capture the soul of childhood.
Changes in Picasso’s life are generally reflected in his stylistic evolution as an artist. In 1927, he met Marie-Thérèse Walter, a very young woman with whom he would maintain a passionate relationship. One of the most outstanding works he created during this long relationship is Portrait of a Woman with Green-Collar Dress (Marie-Thérèse Walter) 1938, in which the artist’s muse sits on a chair, the bright, unmixed colors underlining her freshness. Soon afterwards, Picasso met Dora Maar, his new lover and fellow artist, and he did a series of very expressive portraits of her, such as Bust of a Woman with Arms Crossed Behind her Head, 1939. Here we see Cubism merging with Surrealism, like some sort of caricature, in which we detect some of the cruelty of the Guernica (incidentally, a work he painted when he was with her).
In contrast to the powerful forms and the force of the images inspired in Dora Maar, we are later confronted to the static beauty of his new lover in Woman in an Armchair (Françoise Gilot) 1946, a jigsaw-puzzle of colorful geometric shapes, where Françoise looks like an ancient Mediterranean goddess, with her hieratic yet elegant stance.
Picasso’s second and last marriage was with Jacqueline Roque, of whom he did a series of portraits since the fifties until his death in 1973. In the Collection, we find three surprising works: an oil painting of Jacqueline Seated, 1954, her Sphinx-like position vaguely reminiscent of his famous series Women of Algiers";" Lunar Face, c. 1955-1956, a piece of white clay shaped into a human face by four strokes of the artist’s thumb forming, with astounding minimalism, the figure’s parted lips and ambiguous eyes";" and Head of a Woman. Profile, 1961, a sheet-metal sculpture in which Picasso cuts out the empty forms of an arm, the contours of the eyes and brows, and a minuscule bosom on the right, whereas another arm extends on the left and half a face completes the figure of a standing woman seen in front and profile.
Picasso was also deeply interested in animals. Like the women and children in his portraits, his animals are endowed with dual qualities, both in his ceramics -such as Pitcher in the Form of a Bird, c.1947, in which Picasso turns a jar into what looks like an owl and paints schematic human features on the animal’s chest- and in his paintings –for instance, in Cage with Barn Owl, 1947, where interlocking planes of light and shadow create an ominous atmosphere.
In his series of drawings of La Californie, which all focus on a large window at his villa in the South of France, the art-nouveau window, the palm-tree outside, the furniture inside, even the canvases leaning against the wall or his easel merge in a wiry filigree of forms.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the Reclining Nude and Cat, 1964, which alludes to Manet’s masterpiece Olympia in an intense dialogue over its sensuality.
The extraordinary collection of works from Picasso’s long and prolific career, seems to confirm a statement that Picasso made to one of his closest friends, the poet Paul Éluard: that art is not about “representing” the world, but about embarking on a close dialogue with it, where, eventually, the artist and the world become one.
Picasso Twentieth Century (1901-1972)
The 40 works generously loaned by Bernard Ruiz Picasso and the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (Almine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso Foundation for the Arts), give us a full perspective of Pablo Picasso’s 70 years of feverish activity. The earliest work dated circa 1901 is Casagemas Dead, an important canvas for Picasso, in which he renders tribute to the great friendship he feels for his bohemian friend, a friendship truncated by Casagemas’ suicide. The last work is Woman, 1972, a very sensual image of a woman that appears to be sitting on a chair.
Strolling through the Museum, you will also come across, in chronological order, the intensity of the Blue period in Portrait of Mateu Fernández de Soto";" the solidity of Fernande with mantilla, 1906, whom Picasso portrayed like a conventional matron, only with the Spanish touch he liked to confer on his lovers";" and a series of watercolor and oil Nudes, 1908, which are a prelude to Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, one of the milestones in Picasso’s career. The 1914-1916 period is represented by three drawings of rigorous Synthetic Cubism and The Glass of Absinthe, a painted sculpture that heralds a new vision.
Among the works from the twenties that stand out we find Portrait of Woman with Ermine Collar (Olga) (1923), which reveals his return to the purest forms of Classicism also manifest in his maternities, such as Mother and Child and Child with Toy. There is also the surrealist originality and schematic lines of Face on Bicolor Background (1928), which opens the door to a new visual revolution.
A new phase starts, which will be dominated by the serene and sensual forms of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s new lover: curvy lines and organic shapes mark the appearance of his sculptures, as for instance the Woman on a Pedestal (Reclining Swimmer), 1931. Through the forties Picasso turns to the classical world again depicting a caryatid-like Françoise Gilot in two magnificent nudes and Feminine Form, a ceramic, c. 1948. He alternates these with grotesque works such as Child with Beach Pail or the powerful sculpture Vase with Flowers and Plate with Cakes, 1951.
The melancholy figure of an old musketeer in Portrait of Man with Sword and Flower, 1969, in expressionist red and yellow strokes, illustrates Picasso’s love for life and his need to continue creating. Couple with Cup and Conversation shows Picasso’s obsession with representing a man and a woman in a room, maybe as an expression of the sexual significance he ascribed to painting. These works, as well as the firm outline and the scattered colorful spots used to capture the innocence of a Child, 1971, the shape of a bather standing against the beach horizon or the impressive figure of a naked man displaying his sexual attributes, emphasize the overwhelming energy of this 90 year old genius.
The Palacio de Buenavista
The Palacio de Buenavista, which was declared National Monument in 1939, was acquired by the Regional Government of Andalusia as a home for the Museo Picasso Málaga. It is a magnificent example of 16th century Andalusian architecture, with its blend of Renaissance and Mudejar elements. Its strategic location close to the cathedral, in the historic district of the city, offers an easy access to art lovers.
The building has been restored and fitted with all the technical requirements of a modern art museum. Several of the adjacent buildings have been designed to house the amenities and services of the museum: temporary exhibition galleries, library and archives, auditorium, education center, restoration facilities, bookstore and gift shop, covering a total area of 89,350 square feet (including the Palacio). This expansion has contributed to prevent the decline of the medieval urban quarters and has brought about the discovery of Phoenician, Roman and Moorish remains beneath the Palacio de Buenavista. These have been respected and integrated into the new layout of the building, and can thus be seen by the public along with Picasso’s works.
The complex architecture of the Museum and the adaptation of the different buildings has been carried out by Gluckman Mayner Architects and Cámara/Martín Delgado Arquitectos, who have created bright open spaces in which to contemplate Picasso’s works.
With the opening of this Museum, Pablo Picasso (Málaga, 1881- Mougins, 1973) sees one of his dreams fulfilled and returns with some of his most touching works to the land where he spent his childhood, which is such a decisive period in a person’s life. Therefore, visitors will not only be able to access a dynamic and active Museum complex, but they will also see what the eyes of the creator of the Guernica saw as a child.
On the occasion of the opening of the Museo Picasso Málaga, a catalogue was published in two volumes. The first volume includes the Permanent Collection and 49 works lent by Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso for a renewable ten-year period, while the second volume holds the 40 works that have been loaned for one year by Bernard Ruiz-Picasso and the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte.
The Museo Picasso Málaga Collection catalogue is abundantly illustrated and contains an introduction by Carmen Giménez, as well as texts by Jean Clair, Director of the Musée Picasso, Paris, Francisco Calvo Serraller, professor of History of Art at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, and a detailed analysis of the 204 works by American historian Robert McDonald Parker, who also authors the chronology, the bibliography and the exhibition history. The study of the Collection situates the MPM in the context of Picasso’s artistic evolution and examines the influence of past and contemporary artists on his work in general and on the Collection in particular.
The second volume, entitled Picasso Twentieth Century (1901-1972), contains, apart from the institutional texts, a brief presentation by Carmen Giménez, a general text by Professor Francisco Calvo Serraller, a color reproduction of all the works, each with its technical details, a chronology of exhibitions and a bibliography for each of the works exhibited.