A Masterstroke

The year is 1932, and artist Pablo Picasso, 51, is living with his wife Olga and young son Paulo – while enjoying a secret relationship with Marie-Thérèse Walter, a model half his age. Highlighting what is considered to be one of his most dazzling periods, Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy is Tate Modern’s first Picasso show: a month-by-month journey through the Spanish master’s year in art. 

Picasso described artistic expression as ‘just another form of keeping a diary’. If he did write a diary at the time, then it would certainly have been a page-turner. By the end of this dramatic year in his life, Picasso’s first retrospective had opened in Paris, while his mistress was unwell after swimming in Paris’ Marne river.

With more than 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings, the abstract paintings on display include Le Sauvetage (The Rescue), a dramatic scene depicting a woman being dragged from a river. During this time Picasso was painting emotional art for a woman who was not his wife, making this such a compelling collection. Picasso also painted portraits of Marie-Thérèse, which have since been hailed as some of his greatest works. A trio of famous nudes from this time are a highlight of the exhibition; they were painted during the same five-day period but haven’t been displayed together since. Marie-Thérèse gave birth to their daughter, Maya, in 1935, which caused Olga to leave Picasso forever.

The works in Love, Fame, Tragedy capture the creative bliss of Picasso’s career before these storms, as he balanced two women, worldwide success, and the demands of his art.

Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy is on display until 9 September 2018. For more information and to book tickets, visit Tate Modern.


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