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Ghostly Interview with Pablo Ruiz Picasso

The imaginary ghost of the genius that was the Malaga beach boy Pablo Ruiz Picasso speaks about the women in his life and the muses behind his work in this chapter of the ghostly interview series, biographical articles for the lazy yet curious.


By:  Thea Delavault
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Painter and Sculptor
Birth: 25th October 1881 (Malaga)
Death: 8th April 1973 (Mougins, France)
Magnum opus: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) which marked the beginning of cubism and Guernica (1937) an icon against fascism
Stands out for: his many styles - Blue period (1901-1904), Rose period (1904-1907), Cubism (1907-1908), African-influenced period (1908-1909), Analytic cubism (1909–1912), Synthetic cubism (1912–1919)…
Did you know? women, melancholy, clowns and bullfights are recurring themes in his work

The familiar shiny bald head with tufts of white hair on both sides glistens in the sunlight. From a slightly maniacal and mocking visage the piercing eyes of Pablo Picasso focus in on me. An aura of impatience remains, despite his pertaining to the realm of the no longer living. He smiles as if challenging me to speak.

P. When and where were you born?

R. Your knowledge of art history isn’t very good, is it? I was born in Malaga, at the end of 19th century. That makes me sound ancient, but I didn’t die all that long ago. It feels like only yesterday I was painting in my studio in Montmartre. When I look back I can still see the images of the faces of my women… their sad faces. I did not like women who laughed; I was attracted to the more sombre types.

P. Do you define yourself as an Andalusian artist?

R. My friend and muse, Gertrude Stein, once said: “Painting in the 19th century was only done in France and by Frenchmen. Apart from that, painting did not exist. In the 20th century it was done in France but by Spaniards”. Even though I spent most of my life in Paris, I was considered an Andalusian artist. My cubism, while being part of a French movement, was considered Spanish. I started to paint that way after one of my few trips back to Spain. I was inspired by the landscape.

P. Your painting seem inspired by bullfighting, women with long brown hair and black eyes and the sea…

R. I painted beaches when I was with Marie-Therese. They were the beaches of the south of France, where we were at the time. I felt at home. I suppose they reminded me of the beaches of my earliest days. Then there was my obsession with bullfights. I went to the ones in the south of France, French bullfights, because I could not go back to Spain. I remember so well going to bullfights in Malaga with my grandfather as a tiny boy. I loved the bulls. I identified with them more than with people.

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P. What about fame? You once said that “of all the misfortunes – hunger, misery, being misunderstood by the public – fame is by far the worst. This is how God chastises the artist.”

R. I said a lot of things. I think fame has to be ignored, taken in one’s stride. If you let it get to you, it devours you. It’s a trap. In life I managed to avoid it.

P. And fate?

R. Fate. (He breathes deeply). I accepted fate. I was not however fatalistic in the passive sense. Apart from the biggest decision of my life, when, after various visits from Spain, I decided to move to work in a studio in Montmartre in 1904, I did not believe in “making decisions”. Most of the time they were not important, but simply a waste of time. I did not like to waste time. I worked hard, I worked all the time.

P. What was your relationship with women all about?

R. Women inspired me. The first woman to inspire me was my mother; in fact I took her last name, Picasso, instead of my father’s name Ruiz. Then came my sisters. One of my earliest paintings was The First Communion (1896) of my sister, Lola. I was 14.

P. You had wives and mistresses…

R. My first wife was Olga, a Russian ballerina. In the summer of 1927, I took Marie Therese Walter as my lover; she was my son Paolo’s nurse. I could not help but paint her in Woman with Flower. We had a daughter together, Maya.

P. Dora Maar, figures in a great number of your paintings.

R. Dora… Dora was crazy and what happened to my paintings of her is kind of crazy too. Dora Maar au Chat sold for $95.2 million at Sotheby’s in 2006, the world’s second most expensive painting ever sold at auction. Another famous Dora Maar painting is in the FBI’s National Stolen Art File, stolen from a Saudi yacht in Antibes in 1999.

P. Françoise Gilot?

R. The only woman to ever leave me. You know I painted her face before I met her. I painted it many times. When I saw her for the first time, I recognised her. (Murmurs under his breath softly) I found her. She was my second wife and we had two children, Claude and Paloma. My baby, Paloma, was also a muse! I painted Paloma with an Orange and Paloma in Blue.

P. She left you?

R. I was over 70 and Jacqueline Roque looked after me for the twenty years until my death (Jaqueline in the Studio, 1956). When I died Jacqueline went to work on my final wishes.

P. Were your final wishes carried out?

R. Yes. Jacqueline donated a lot of my work to the French state, with the helpd of Malraux. Even wishes I did not dare imagine took place after my death. The house I was born in, in Malaga, was declared a historic-artistic monument in 1983. There the Picasso Foundation promotes contemporary art. The Malaga Picasso Museum was opened in 2003 in a 16th century palace I wanted to use to exhibit my work when I was alive. It has been beautifully renovated by the New Yorker Richard Gluckman.

P. When and where did you die?
R. In France. I left Malaga when I was ten. My father was later professor of art at the University of Fine Arts in Barcelona. When Franco came into power, Spain became dangerous for artists. Paris was then the epicentre of the art world. Artists and intellectuals gravitated towards it. From time to time I fantasized about sending a couple of trucks full of paintings to set up a museum in Malaga, but I couldn’t visit Spain while Franco was still alive. I died in 1973. The bastard outlived me by two years!

 

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Must see

Museo Picasso Málaga
Opened in 2003 and located in a beautiful sixteenth-century mansion the museum houses a permanent collection of 204 works donated by Christine and Bernard Ruiz, including works given to friends, family and lovers, and which Picasso kept for himself, as well as great temporary exhibits.
Palacio de Buenavista
C/ San Augustin, s/n
Malaga
952602731, 952127600, museopicassomalaga.org
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00. Permanent collection € 6, temporary collection € 4.50, combined ticket € 8, last Sunday of each month free entrance after 15:00.

Casa Natal de Picasso and Picasso Foundation (Fundación Picasso)
Head office of the Picasso Foundation established 1988 by Malaga city council this is where Picasso was born on the 25th of October 1881. It includes an exhibition space with etchings and lithographs, mostly of women, as well as photographs of Picasso during his lifetime.
Plaza de la Merced, 15
Malaga
fundacionpicasso.es
Open: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00. € 1.


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1 comment

Pon tu propia imagen con Gravatar
El 21 June 2010 a las 4:30 PM, gilberto dijo...

hola tengo 2 reproduciones hechas en los 1960,una se llama tete d,etudiant medical ,1907,la otra no me aparece es una dama bajo el sol con una pamela con cara redonda parecida a un marciano con la nariz pronunciada que nace de las pestanas,boca chica y ojos achnados ,la fecha de la obra 16/04/21,pintura de la pamela amarilla que es el sol,es un canva,la ropa azul fuerte y arrededor verde militar ,con un gris alrededor ,alguien me puede ayudar,gracias.



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