Picasso’s last will-o’-the-wisps exhibited in Antibes

“Reclining Woman” (1971), by Pablo Picasso.

How to mediate today around an exhibition of Picasso, as he has become an object of detestation among certain feminist movements? At the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, ​​the director, Emmanuel Guigon, once organized a symposium on this theme. For the one organized in Paris, its president, Cécile Debray, invited the artist ORLAN in the summer of 2022, who had little suspicion of sympathy for the old macho – neither this one nor any other – who showed an exhibition there entitled “ Women who cry are angry”. Cécile Debray also regularly organizes meetings on this theme.

Jean-Louis Andral, their counterpart at the Picasso Museum in Antibes, is showing until July 2 a formidable set of 41 works, the ultimate creations of Malaguène, paintings painted between 1969 and 1972. When asked about this specific subject , he is serene : “The Antibes museum is one of the rare places where, historically, the problem does not arise. »

Indeed, when he moved there in 1946, at the invitation of the curator at the time, Romuald Dor de La Souchère, his companion at the time was Françoise Gilot, the only one who dared to leave him to live her own life as a ‘artist. Not without a fuss, moreover, since Picasso went out of his way, in vain, to prevent the publication of the book that she then devoted to their affair.

Child’s drawings

“She was a strong and free womansays Jean-Louis Andral, which shows that it was possible, even while living with Picasso. It’s true, there are controversies about his relationship to women. But the paintings that we are showing of him were made by a 90-year-old man, an age when the problem arises less… And, above all, his work must be placed in a historical context. » He pursues : “He’s someone who was born in the 19th century.e century. In Andalusia, which in 1881 was a remote province of Spain. It is not the Middle Ages, but it is not there either that he can be confronted with the greatest modernity: it is a very rural region, with a culture, let us say, “Latin”, where the patriarchy is the rule and where the culture is steeped in machismo. »

And the exhibition, in all this? She is fascinating. It is the work of an old man who has just – temporarily – escaped death, after an operation in 1965 (he was 84 years old), and feels caught up in a frenzy of life. He lets it go entirely in his painting, which finds the freshness and nerve of children’s drawings, which will be much criticized. Thus, between January 1969 and January 1970, 167 paintings were born! He will make nearly 200 more in the two years that follow, without counting, over the whole period, nearly 400 drawings and 156 engravings! He did not stop painting until November 1972, a few months before his death on April 8, 1973.

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