“Why is Picasso’s erotic life so fascinating to so many?”

For two days, the Reina Sofía Museum has hosted an international congress in which, under the title ‘ Picasso from cultural studies. Sueño y mentira de España (1898-1922)’, leading experts have analyzed, through 14 conferences, 4 round tables and the projection of a documentary, the figure of the artist on the 50th anniversary of his death. Yesterday it was closed by Abigail Solomon-Godeau (New York, 1948), emeritus professor of Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a conference on feminist interpretations of ‘Las Demoiselles d’Avignon’. — In the Year of Picasso and in the #MeToo era, voices have been raised accusing the artist of being a tyrant, abuser, ruthless, violent, misogynist… A monster. Art students demonstrated at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona with the slogan: ‘Abusive Picasso’. Do you think Picasso should be cancelled? Shouldn’t Gauguin, Balthus, Nabokov, Lewis Carroll, Caravaggio be canceled for being a murderer, and so many other creators/destroyers? —I have no doubt that Picasso was a tyrant, abusive, ruthless, etc. But with regard to art, I think it’s important to make clear distinctions between the nature of the human being who made it, and the work itself, which has an independent life. The debates around the man Picasso and how it should affect our reaction to his work could be analogous to the debates around the music of Richard Wagner. Yes, Wagner was also something of a monster, and his anti-Semitism makes his personal flaws and mistakes even worse. But do we want to censor his music (as happened in Israel until Daniel Barenboim broke the taboo), whose beauty – like all important art – enriches our lives? Sure, there are times when he might endorse censorship, but so far I haven’t come across a situation where he personally supports ‘cancel culture’. — Isn’t it unfair to judge with today’s eyes what happened a century ago, in a completely different context and with its protagonists dead, who cannot defend themselves? —I do not support a simplistic notion of relativism in which the past is judged by the ethical or moral norms of the present. But there’s no reason not to wonder if this makes sense or not. And that does not mean that we cannot reflect on the consequences, the effects, the injustices of the past, without having any illusions about how all of this continues to be applied in the present. — Is it possible to hate Picasso the man and love Picasso the artist? —Of course you can hate the artist and love his work. Hence my allusion to Wagner. I suppose one can also love the artist and hate the work (“Why did the artists I love make this horrible picture?”) But more seriously, as Walter Benjamin wrote, all monuments of civilization are also monuments of barbarism, but this does not mean that we should throw away these monuments of civilization. — His relationship with women was very stormy. He destroyed his couples: Marie-Thérèse Walter and Jacqueline Roque committed suicide, Dora Maar went mad… Françoise Gilot was the only woman who dared to abandon him. Does she believe that she vampirized the women she was with and nullified the creative side of him? Was he always the executioner and they the victims? —Dora Maar did not go crazy, she had a nervous breakdown from which she recovered. And like most nervous breakdowns (or suicides), these have multiple causes. Picasso’s love life has been highly sensationalized, with much of it stemming from gossip, rumors, and speculation. I think the most interesting question is why Picasso’s erotic life is so fascinating to so many. — Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, the artist’s grandson, defends that he was a great feminist. Do you see it possible? “Ha!” MORE INFORMATION noticia No The Year Picasso will review the artist’s complex relationship with women noticia Yes Picasso through Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, the dealer who whispered to the cubists — At the closing of the symposium, you addressed the feminist interpretations of ‘Las Señoritas of Avignon’. It is known that he portrayed five Barcelona prostitutes. How do you read that painting in a feminist key? —The statement that the five figures in the painting are prostitutes inside a brothel is not a fact. It is an interpretation, which has been questioned by some art historians, notably Suzanne Preston Blier. What also needs to be taken into account is that a painting is an object that has no direct relation to the ‘real’, even if it is done in a realistic style. Indeed, without the ‘knowledge’ that we are looking at prostitutes in a brothel, one would have no way of arriving at such an identification.

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