By Marie Tomb

The Sursock Museum hosts a bijou exhibit of the great artist’s work

The Sursock Museum’s Picasso et la Famille, the first exhibition of the Spanish artist in Lebanon, delves into the concept of family, a recurrent source of inspiration for the artist – despite his own lack of commitment to maintaining a stable family unit. Throughout the exhibition, the term not only designates the family Picasso was born into, and the nuclear families he founded with his successive companions, but also families he met or others he invented. One sees Picasso harnessing the notion of family to depict happiness as well as tragedy, to meditate on childhood, motherhood and ageing, and even propose political commentary. Although featuring about 20 works only, the show succeeds in placing the spotlight not only on Picasso’s personal life, but also on his constantly renewed style, spurring a rediscovery of his spontaneity, unfettered creativity and curiosity about multiple media and techniques.

Realized in collaboration with the Musée National Picasso-Paris, under the framework of its “Picasso-Méditerranée” initiative, the exhibition spans the artist’s entire career, from his teen years beginnings to the last years of his life. Early works include the poignant portrait of a young female beggar, La Fillette aux Pieds Nus (1895), a sombre work painted soon after the death of the artist’s sister. The exhibition then unfolds along Picasso’s successive relationships. In the 1950s for instance, Picasso depicted intimacy, with pictures of familial bliss, featuring his children Paloma and Claude at play, and their mother Françoise Gilot. In his final years, when he was married to Jacqueline Roque, the artist turned to using the trope of the family as a meditation on the spontaneity of childhood, in pictures such as Painter and Child (1969). Homme et Femme (1971), a portrait of a seemingly older couple, expressed thoughts about ageing and companionship.

Feature caption: Pablo Picasso, Françoise, Claude, Paloma : la lecture et les jeux. I [Françoise, Claude, Paloma: reading and games], Paris, 16 January 1953. Etching, aquatint, and scraper on copper. Third state. Proof by Lacourière, 33,5 × 48,4 cm. Musée national Picasso-Paris, Dation Pablo Picasso, 1979. MP3009. © RMN-Grand Palais. © Succession Picasso 2019.