january 30, 2020 - National gallery of Denmark

'BELOVED BY PICASSO'. Experience the passionate story of Pablo Picasso and his strong models


Experience the passionate story of #pablopicasso and his strong models.

12 October 2019 to 23 February 2020

Dressed and nude. Insistent and introvert. As models and as themselves. Curvy and jagged. Observing and sleeping. Over the course of seven decades, the Spanish artist #pablopicasso (1881–1973) depicted the female form as a colourful metamorphosis; always full of yearning and steely will, desire and passion.

From 12 October 2019 to 23 February 2020, ARKEN will be showing a dazzling array of Pablo Picasso’s best works in the exhibition Beloved by Picasso – The Power of the Model. The exhibition is created in close collaboration with Musée national Picasso-Paris and presents a total of 51 works including paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints – among these are many masterpieces from the museum’s collection. Beloved by Picasso – The Power of the Model presents Pablo Picasso’s artistic progression in the light of his models, and therefore the artist must share the spotlight with the five women: Olga Khokhlova, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Roque.

Life and art

Pablo Picasso is one of the most important and acclaimed artists in the history of modern western art. He is famous for his capacity to renew himself and notorious for his uncompromising – some would say promiscuous – lifestyle. His passionate temperament infused and shaped not only his artistic practice, but also his at times turbulent life.

Picasso’s art is often political and created as a response to his time. But it is also private. In June 1932, one of his most productive years, he said: “The work one creates is just another way of keeping a diary”. The exhibition gives us a unique insight into how Picasso’s friends, family, wives and lovers challenged and inspired his artistic develop­ment. For each new model the visual style of the works changes, and Picasso’s loved ones are a constant source of inspiration for the artist’s calm, erotic and loving compositions.

The Power of the Image

Despite Pablo Picasso’s obsession with depicting the motif of the artist and the model, he himself only rarely worked with a live model. Instead he worked from memory or photographs. With high drama and self-irony, Picasso creates a caricatured image of an affectionate and often erotic relationship between the artist and the model. In his dramatic staging Picasso depicts the com­plexity of desire and the gaze as strong driving forces as he stages the desire to see and be seen.

Picasso’s eventful private life has prompted many to perceive his works as direct and truthful testaments of the #people being portrayed. And the #people who were beloved by Picasso have often been locked in one-sided readings of who they were as individuals. But even when an image is powerful, the depiction of the person on the canvas is never the entire truth about the real person behind the canvas.

The women have all – directly or indirectly – influenced Picasso’s art. The exhibition retells the stories of these women, casting them as much more than Picasso’s beloved muses and favourite faces. First and foremost, they were reflective, complex and energetic women with their own life stories independent of their relationships with Picasso. Their stories are now being told at ARKEN with a new attention to the power of images and the artist’s dramatic staging.

The exhibition has been organized in a unique collaboration with Musée national Picasso-Paris.

Work on frontpage: Pablo Picasso, Portrait de Marie-Thérèse, 1937. Oil and crayon on canvas. Musée national Picasso-Paris © Succession Picasso / VISDA 2019