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Pablo Picasso PARISIAN

Pablo Picasso PARISIAN AT HEART Although Spanish by birth, the French capital was the place that fueled Picasso’s artistic spirit, explains travel writer Catherine Balston Above: Chairman Torstein Hagen with the 2019 Viking Longships godmothers at the Beyeler Museum’s Picasso exhibit in Basel, Switzerland Painter, sculptor, photographer and poet, Pablo Picasso was a titan of 20th-century art. His oeuvre was prolific, spanning decades and styles, and elevating him from poverty to international fame over the course of his 91 years. Picasso was Spanish—born in Málaga in 1881 before moving to Barcelona at age 13—but he was also a Parisian. Then the cultural capital of the world, Paris was to have a big impact on his work. PARIS Picasso’s first visit to Paris was in 1900, age 19, to show his work at the Exposition Universelle, and he returned soon after to live in Montmartre, the “Village on the Hill,” as it was known, frequenting its bars and cafés with a cohort of avant-garde writers and artists. Picasso’s early years in Paris were poor but riotous, the city’s sleaze and bohemianism a potent catalyst for his creativity. It was in those early Paris years that Picasso, along with the French painter Georges Braque, developed cubism, which caused a revolution in the way objects were seen and depicted. The artists’ subjects were at times barely perceptible: pieced-together fragments of light and shade. His masterpiece, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, painted in 1907, shocked those who saw it. The ugly, distorted faces of the five depicted ladies were considered an offense to Renaissance ideals of female beauty. Cubism, and Picasso’s style, evolved, and Parisian neighborhoods rose and fell from the center of the art world in line with Picasso’s movements. In the late 1920s and 1930s, involved in the surrealist movement, Picasso would hold court in the cafés of the Left Bank, discussing art with radical intellectuals. And in the medieval streets of Saint-Germaindes-Prés, Picasso became a symbol of occupied and then liberated Paris 98 VIKING.COM EXPLORE MORE 2020

CULTURE after World War II. Paris was not to be his home till the end, however. By the late 1940s, Picasso was spending more and more time in the South of France, where he moved for good in the late 1960s. Spain, however, was to remain forever the place of his childhood; after Franco quashed democracy in his 1939 Spanish Civil War victory, the principled Picasso would never go back. Paris may have been the pivot around which Picasso’s artistic life revolved for the better part of six decades, but southern France is also Picasso country. From Antibes to Avignon, Picasso found love, and inspiration, in the sun-soaked hills and coastline that had inspired van Gogh, Cézanne, Chagall, Matisse and so many other artists. AVIGNON The gray stone churches and palaces of this southern city lie behind the medieval walls of its perimeter. Picasso and Braque traveled to Avignon together in 1912 and spent much of the summer in the nearby village of Sorgues, just five miles away. It was there that the pair first started to experiment with papier collé—a collage technique considered revolutionary at the time, which Picasso played with over the following three years, attaching things like newspaper cuttings and musical instruments to his canvases. ANTIBES In 1936, with his mistress Marie- Thérèse Walter and their baby daughter Maya in tow, Picasso left Paris (and legal wrangles with his wife) behind to escape to the French Riviera. He rented a villa in the seaside town of Juan-les- Pins. Ten years later and two miles west along the coast in Golfe-Juan, Picasso returned with a new spirit and a new mistress, Françoise Gilot. Revived by love and the end of World War II, Picasso produced dozens of drawings and paintings in a matter of months, the latter Clockwise, from above: Pablo Picasso, photographed in his studio; the medieval Pont d’Avignon EXPLORE MORE 2020 VIKING.COM 99