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Olga Picasso

26 Feb. 2019 2 Jun. 2019

Museo Picasso Málaga will be examining the life and background of Olga Khokhlova, Pablo Picasso’s first wife, in the first show of its 2019 exhibition calendar. Olga Picasso looks at the years they spent together, putting into perspective the creation of some of Picasso’s greatest works and reconstructing this body of work in the context of a personal story that developed alongside another political and social one. Picasso’s model par excellence, his imagined figure of Olga underwent a metamorphosis during the years of upheaval in Europe between the wars, as their relationship gradually deteriorated. 

Olga Khokhlova (Nezhin, Ukraine, 1891– Cannes, France, 1955) was the daughter of a colonel in the Russian Imperial Army. In 1911 she joined the prestigious and innovative Ballet Russes company, which was highly successful in Europe at the start of the 20th-century under the direction of Serguei Diaghilev. She first met Pablo Picasso in Rome in the spring of 1917, when the artist was designing the sets and costumes for the ballet Parade. They were married in Paris, on 12th July 1918, and their first and only child, Paul, was born in February 1921. The couple separated in 1935, although they remained married until Olga’s death in Cannes, in 1955.

The Russian ballerina’s travel trunk, which her son received when he inherited the chateau of Boisgeloup - currently owned by the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (FABA) - contained letters and photographs that made it possible to put together a personal and artistic story which developed  parallel to another, political and social, story. For many years, the drawers harboured Kodak envelopes full of photos that told the story of his grandparents, their life together, their travels, Picasso’s ateliers and more. In other compartments lay hundreds of letters in French and Russian, and also held her dance attire, ballet shoes, tutus, programmes and other more personal objects. The contents of the trunk, which was the only personal belonging Olga kept after her separation from Picasso, meant that aspects of the artist’s work during his time with her were able to be put into context. Olga Picasso provides a new look at her role in both the artist’s life and art history. 

Approximately 350 items will be shown in the exhibition, including paintings, works on paper, photographs, letters, documents and films. It has been jointly curated by Émilia Philippot, conservator of the Musée national Picasso-Paris; Joachim Pissarro, professor of art history and director of Hunter College Art Gallery (New York); and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, co-chair of the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, FABA, president of the Executive Board of Museo Picasso Málaga and member of its Board of Trustees. The exhibition has been adapted for Museo Picasso Málaga by José Lebrero, the museum’s artistic director, and Sofía Díaz, its exhibitions coordinator.

This touring exhibition is the product of collaboration between four international institutions. The exhibition shown in Museo Picasso Málaga was organized by Musée national Picasso-Paris, in collaboration with Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte. It was seen at Museé national Picasso-Paris from 21st March to 3rd September 2017, and at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow from 19th November 2018 to 4th February 2019, before coming to Museo Picasso Málaga from 26th February to 2nd June, after which it will run from 18th June to 22nd September at CaixaForum Madrid.



Saturdays, 12pm

In Spanish.


February 2019

For children and young people between 4 and 15 years old. More information soon.


April 2019

Workshop for adults: dry point and etching techniques.


Guided tours and art workshops on the works of the exhibition.


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