Gourmet Fair

A Foreigner Named Picasso

Portrait of Pablo Picasso in his studio on the rue Schoelcher, circa 1915-1916, attributed to Zayas George. Paris, Musée national Picasso – Paris. Don succession Picasso, 1992, archives personnelles de Pablo Picasso. © Georges de Zayas. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Adrien Didierjean. © Succession Picasso 2021. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Paris, France — It is a singular exhibition that is unfolding on the edge of town at the Musée national de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (The museum dedicated to the history of immigration in France). It tells the tale of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. But not the tale of his career which skyrocketed not too long after his arrival in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. It tells the tale of being a foreigner in France, the renewal of his residency permits and his request for French citizenship in 1940 which was refused. He would never ask for it again.

Pablo Picasso, Femme qui pleure, (Woman Crying) 18 October 1937. Paris, musée national Picasso – Paris. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Adrien Didierjean. © Succession Picasso 2021

The exhibition underscores this Picasso paradox and how his status as a foreigner impacted his destiny through documents, film archives, photographs and art works that have been brought together for the first time through the major research conducted by the historian Annie-Cohen-Solal who curated the exhibition. Starting in 1901 he was mistakenly identified by the French police as an « anarchist under surveillance. »

Receipt for a request for an identity card dated 1935. ©Archives de la Préfecture de Police de Paris. ©Succession Picasso 2021

The exhibition demonstrates how it really wasn’t a good idea in France at the time to have been born abroad, a friend of anarchists and communists and an avant-garde artist. The show offers a chronological journey of Picasso in France from 1900 to 1973 all the while exploring Picasso as anarchist under surveillance, cosmopolitan expatriate, leader of the Cubist movement, mondain painter befriended by aristocrats and the upper middle class, Spanish political refugee, great artist.

Letter sent to the French Justice Ministry requesting naturalization in 1940 with Picasso’s signature. ©Archives de la Préfecture de Police de Paris. ©Succession Picasso 2021. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Picasso was the object of reports by the French secret services from 1901 until 1954, was required to renew his residency card every two years and in 1940 despite his recognition on an international level and the prices his work garnered, saw his request for naturalization refused. He was however, as a resident, required to pay taxes to the French government. He would never renew his request for French citizenship. Picasso would leave for the sun-drenched south of France and its arts and craftsmen in 1955.

Pablo Picasso, Chat saisissant un oiseau, (Cat Grabbing a Bird), 22 April 1939. Paris, musée national Picasso – Paris. Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau. ©Succession Picasso 2021. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

He would remain silent on his administrative difficulties during his lifetime, concentrating on his works which form an important part of the exhibition. The show is being held in conjunction with the Picasso Museum of Paris which has also made exception loans to the show along with the Picasso Museums of Barcelona and Antibes. The exhibition running until February 13th, is being held in the Palais de la Porte Dorée, a magnificent building constructed for the Paris Colonial Exhibition of 1931.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazetteal

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