Jointly with the National Picasso Museum in Paris and the Almine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso Foundation for Art (FABA) in Madrid the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts presents the exhibition “Picasso & Khokhlova.” Olga Khokhlova, Picasso’s first wife, is the main heroic figure of this exhibition. The love story of the Spanish artist and Russian dancer is portrayed in paintings by the artist, photos, letters, and personal items from Picasso’s family archives. Along with famous titles, the exhibition will include art works that have never before been displayed in Russia. The general sponsor of the exhibition is VTB Bank. The project was implemented with the participation of Mastercard.
The first exhibition dedicated to Pablo Picasso and Olga Khokhlova was held at the National Picasso Museum in Paris in 2017. The project “Olga Picasso” marked the centennial anniversary of the artist’s acquaintance with his first wife. It covered the time period in which they lived as husband and wife, and it explored the impact that Olga and Russian culture had on Picasso’s work. Now the exhibition is being hosted by the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, which is famous for its grand-scale Picasso exhibitions. The museum holds works by the artist and unique photos sent by Olga Khokhlova to her relatives in Russia in the 1920s.
In this Moscow exhibition of “Picasso & Khokhlova,” over 200 items will be displayed — from panoramic panel paintings to furniture, letters, and postcards. Most of the paintings and graphic art works belong to the collection of the National Picasso Museum in Paris, the world’s leading research center for Picasso’s life and legacy. Another valuable contributor is the FABA Foundation headed by Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, the grandson of Pablo Picasso and Olga Khokhlova. For the first time in Russia, the foundation will display a family collection of Picasso’s unknown works, as well as archival items found in Olga’s travel trunk, where they were hidden for many years. Careful research of the archival content has made it possible to reconstruct the history of the relationship between Olga and Pablo and create a unique exhibition.
The main objective of the project is to portray Picasso in the context of his personal history. The concept of the exposition revolves around the subjects and artistic experiences that have a connection to Olga – from classic portraits and mother-figure characters to surrealistic visions. Each subject is explored in one of eleven sections.
Pablo Picasso and Olga Khokhlova met in Rome in 1917 when her ballet company was rehearsing “Parade,” one of Sergei Diaghilev’s “Ballets Russes.” In 1918 they wed in an Orthodox church in Paris. Olga Khokhlova became the artist’s first official wife and the main model for the new “classicism” period of Picasso’s artistic career. The turbulent avant-garde period had finished, and Picasso’s social and artistic life settled down a bit. His painting manner changed, as did his social status: Olga and Pablo became more refined members of society, and they had to act out their new social roles. Along with peace and quiet, Picasso’s art acquired monumental forms, drawing inspiration from classical art. This fruitful period in Pablo and Olga’s life is represented in the White Hall. Olga’s portraits connected by two main themes – “A Muse and a Model” and “Melancholy” – are exhibited here. A part of the exhibition entitled “Change of Scene” explores the couple’s social life, which included salons, apartments, and castles where they stayed. The sections “Motherhood” and “Paul” shed light on Olga’s domestic world, which was filled with love and care for her son Paul, born on February 4, 1921.
In the mid-1920s Picasso’s attitude toward family changed. His new passions in life and art complicated his relationships with Paul and Olga. His portrayal of Olga in his works also changed. This period that ended in separation is represented in two thematic sections that complement each other. The story of his new love interest is shown in “The Studio” and “Bathers,” while the break-up with Olga is illustrated in “The Metamorphosis.” A high-life masquerade of attitudes and hidden drama can be seen in home videos in the “On Screen” section. Picasso’s varied relations with the women around him are explored in the subjects of “Bullfighting and Crucifixions,” in which the artist portrayed himself as a bull, a victim of the toreador, and also in “Eros and Tanatos,” which includes art works united by the theme of the Minotaur – a tyrant and a victim, and the painter’s main alter ego in the 1930s. Picasso and Khokhlova finally broke up in 1935, but they did not divorce officially before Olga’s death in 1955.
Marina Loshak, Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
This exhibition explores the very important period in Picasso’s life connected with the ballerina Olga Khokhlova, his Russian wife. We will portray our version of their love story and life together, and we will illustrate the impact of Russian culture on the master’s life. In the exposition the visitors will walk through different stages of an exciting and dramatic storyline, which not only brought about internal transformations in the artist, but also had a tremendous impact on his art.
Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, Exhibition Curator, Co-Founder and Co-Chairperson of the Almine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso Foundation for Art
This exhibition is the result of long-term research into the archives left to me by my paternal grandmother Olga Khokhlova (1891–1955), which provided abundant information about her relationship with Pablo Picasso. This research was a real adventure for me, and I would like to share it so that others can discover the details that impacted Picasso’s work during his life together with Olga.
Aleksey Petukhov, Exhibition Curator, Senior Researcher of the Department of 19th and 20th Century European and American Art
The “Picasso & Khokhlova” exhibition can be thought of as a novel about life and art. Visitors will be able to imaginatively experience the Diaghilev ballet performances, feel the peaceful atmosphere of Picasso’s new house and empathize with Olga’s pensive silence there, hear the parents play with their son Paulo, and feel the pain of separation, all the burdens of which Picasso rendered in his art works.
The “Picasso & Khokhlova” exhibition is timed to coincide with the 38th International Music Festival “December Nights of Sviatoslav Richter,” which will be held at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts from November 30 to December 27, 2018. The exhibition will be complemented with an educational program included in “The Picasso Autumn” series of three major projects: the exhibitions “The Anatomy of Cubism,” “Soirées de Paris of Baroness d'Oettingen. Rousseau, Modigliani, Apollinaire, Survage, Férat,” and “Picasso & Khokhlova.” There will also be events for visitors with special needs prepared by the Inclusivity Department of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
After the Moscow event, the exhibition will move to the Picasso Museum in Malaga (from February 25 until June 2, 2019) and then to the Cultural Center of CaixaForum Madrid (from June 18 until September 22, 2019).
Входной билет – 600 рублей, льготный билет – 300 рублей.