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The Women Behind Picasso’s Paintings

The Tate Modern is collaborating with the Musee National-Picasso, Paris and has opened its first solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s work and it is one of the most prestigious shows the London gallery has staged. The exhibition named The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame and Tragedy will take visitors on a seasonal journey through Picasso’s work in 1932. A time where he was at his peak in creativity, at age 50 his work throughout the year consisted of over 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures. It has since been named as Picassos’ s ‘year of wonders’.

“The paintings finished or not are the pages from my diary” – Pablo Picasso

The display offers rare glimpses into Picasso’s family and personal life, with many of his greatest masterpieces from 1932, having been inspired by his infamous love affair with Marie-Therese Walter. Picasso who was married to Russian ballet dancer, Olga Khokhlova, spiraled into a passionate relationship with Marie-Therese at the age of 45, whilst she was 28 years his younger.

The year of 1932 portrayed the significant different styles in Picasso’s work. Portraits of Olga and their son Paublo showed his feelings of pride and sensitivity for his family while his sexually charged paintings of the new, secret woman in his life revealed a new dynamic. Highlights of the exhibition include Girl before a Mirror, which has been widely interpreted as being his lover and his wife and the renowned piece The Dream, which has never been exhibited in the UK before.

In an article by his granddaughter Diana Widmaier Picasso, she describes the relationship between her grandfather and his mistress as she writes,

‘By 1928, Picasso could no longer bear to be apart from Marie-Thérèse… Whenever he could get away, he would take her to the sea.’

Picasso’s time on the beach with Walter inspired a series of heavily abstract and provocative paintings, including Woman On The Beach, 1932. She is believed to be lying nude on the sand running to a cabana fuelled by a sexual urge.

With Olga’s manifesting jealousy and aggression growing with the tensions in the Picasso household, the portraits of her became more tortured with serrated edges and pained, distorted faces. Whilst Picasso painted Marie-Therese, capturing calmness and sexuality. Picasso’s earlier creations of Olga were realistic and in a classic style, whereas his paintings of his mistress during 1932 were colourful, abstract and playful. Many would say this depicts the difference in his relationships and feelings towards his lover and beloved. It is clear to see that the women in his life inspired his work throughout 1932.


The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame and Tragedy is currently open and will be accessible until September 9th 2018. It is likely to be London’s top exhibition of the year.