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Visitors to the Museo Reina Sofia view Guernica in its home on the 2nd Floor of the Sabatini Building


King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia: They inaugurated Picasso Year

On the 12th of September 2022, Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain inaugurated “Picasso Year” which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain on 25 October 1881 and died in the French town of Mougins on 8 April 1973. Picasso Year is being carried out by the Spanish government with the collaboration of the French Government and Picasso’s family. The opening ceremony,  held at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, counted on the special participation of  the Spanish and French Ministers for Culture, Miquel Iceta and Rima Abdul Malak respectively; Pablo Picasso’s grandson, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, President of the Executive Council of the Picasso Museum in Malaga; José Manuel Albares, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation; and Félix Bolaños, Minister for the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Democratic Memory. Apart, of course, from the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sanchez.

Façade of the Reina Sofia Museum

During the inaugural ceremony, Felipe VI noted that Picasso is a universal artist of the 20th century who knew how to raise the Spanish heritage and culture to “an — almost — eternal category  and provide it with an immense international projection.”

Pedro Sánchez said that the government intends to turn the commemoration “into an event of global significance.”

Sánchez stated that the 1973-2023 Picasso celebration comprises some 50 exhibitions and events that, as a whole, will provide a complete historiographical analysis of the artist’s oeuvre. Picasso, he said is “the Spanish artist with the greatest transcendence and universal projection of the entire 20th century. [He is] a quintessentially European artist. A man who, from a profound knowledge of the heritage and principles of tradition and an understanding of classicism as an ethical value, transferred a vision of the whole universe to his work in a unique way.”

The Picasso Year was first announced at the 26th Franco-Spanish Summit on 15 March 2021 in Montauban, Occitania by the President of the French Republic and the President of the Government of Spain.

President of the Government Pedro Sanchez addresses the inauguration of Picasso Year promising to turn Picasso Year into “an event of global significance”

Picasso Year will begin this October with exhibitions on the figure of the painter. It will continue throughout 2023 when 50 years will have passed since his death. This date marks the celebration of Picasso’s artistic heritage in Spain, France and other countries. Forty-two of the slated exhibitions have already been scheduled: 16 in Spain, 12 in France, 7 in the United States, 2 each in Germany and Switzerland, one each in Monaco, Romania and Belgium.

The Spanish end of the celebrations will be held at Casa de Velázquez, La Casa Encendida, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Fundación MAPFRE, and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, all of which are located in Madrid; Fundació Joan Miró in Palma de Mallorca, Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Museo Casa Natal Picasso in Malaga, Museo Picasso de Málaga, Museu del Disseny de Barcelona, and Museu Picasso Barcelona.

In France, exhibitions will be held at the Musée de Montmartre, Musée de l’Homme- Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Musée national Picasso-Paris, Musée du Luxembourg, Petit Palais, and Centre Pompidou, all in Paris; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon; Musée Picasso, Antibes; Musée Magnelli-Musée de la céramique, Vallauris; Musée Goya-Musée d’art hispanique, Castres; and Collection Lambert, Avignon.

Spanish Minister of Culture Miquel Iceta: “Fifty years after Picasso’s death, he is still alive”

Speaking from Room 205.10 on the 2nd floor of the Sabatini Building at the Reina Sofía Museum, home to Picasso’s “Guernica”, the Spanish Minister for Culture extolled Picasso’s artistic legacy and the relevance of his work, saying, “If there is an artist who defines the 20th century, who represents it with all its cruelty, its violence, its passion, its excesses and its contradictions, it is, without a doubt, Pablo Picasso.”

In regard to the upcoming Picasso Year, he said he was “sure that [the celebration] will allow us again, if not for the first time, to enjoy an art that is always alive. It will also allow us to look at [Picasso] from a contemporary perspective, helping us to understand an artist who is still alive 50 years after his death through today’s eyes.”

French Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak:

As to the French Minister of Culture, she considers that “Picasso’s work continues to exert a real fascination throughout the world, abundant, inventive and often radical. For its artistic strength, of course. But also for its political strength. It never ceases to be reread, revisited and reinterpreted. This formidable posterity, this dual culture and this work, which is still so relevant today, is what the 1973-2023 Picasso Celebration aims to explore, question and share with a new generation born in the 21st century, and to enable them to discover and understand it in the light of our times”.

The official program reflects the validity of the artist’s work, delving into previously unpublished aspects of his oeuvre. It will underscore the career of an essentially European artist who, from a profound knowledge of the heritage and principles of Europe’s cultural tradition, created such universal symbols as “Guernica”, today a collective emblem for the defense of human rights.

Zelensky addressing the Spanish Parliament: Spain and Ukraine nave a Guernica in common

At the inauguration of Picasso Year, Sanchez made special mention of Ukrainian President Zelensky who compared Russia’s atrocious assault on Ukraine to the 1937 fascist German and Italian bombing of the quiet Basque town of Guernica when he addressed the Lower House of the Spanish Parliament last April: “Just imagine, people in Europe [that is, in Ukraine] now are spending weeks in basements to save their lives from shelling and air bombardment. It’s April 2022, but it feels like April 1937, when the whole world heard about one of your cities, Guernica.”

The carpet-bombing of the town by the Nazi German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion and the Fascist Italian Aviazione, which killed hundreds of civilians, was part of the Nationalist military strategy in the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War. Ultimately, Generalissimo Franco, Hitler and Mussolini’s s ally in that terrible conflict, led the Nationalist faction to victory thereby overthrowing the legitimate Republican government.

Picasso immortalized the horrors of the bombing in his haunting anti-war masterpiece, Guernica. “It is a political picture that sheds as much truth on our past as a photograph of that horror, but also addresses the wars of the present,” Sanchez remarked.

Two academic conferences
Additionally, there will be two academic conferences for Picasso Year that will provide the essential meeting points for scientific exchanges between researchers and experts on the artist’s work and an opportunity to produce a historiographical study of Picasso’s oeuvre.

After Las Meninas, one of Picasso’s several reinterpretations of Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas

One of the conferences will take place at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid this autumn, on avant-garde Picasso, which will be followed by a major international symposium to be held in Paris on 6-8 December 2023 at UNESCO’s head office.

The Paris conference will revolve around the theme “Picasso in the 21st century: historiographical and cultural issues.” Art historians, reputed curators, artists, writers and collectors in the field of Picasso will be on hand for the Paris conference.
Main source: La Moncloa Gobierno de España


> Featured image/Angela Hu, CC BY2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
> Spanish monarchs/ 首相官邸ホームページ, CC BY4.0 via Wikimedia Commons, cropped
> Reina Sofia Museum/Emilio, CC BY-SA2.0 via Flickr
> Pedro Sanchez/Pool Moncloa Fernando Calvo
> Miquel Iceta/Ministerio de la Presidencia Gobierno de España, PD via Wikipedia
> Rima Abdul Malak/Thibaut Chapotot, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, CC BY-SA3.0 fr via Wikipedia
> Zelensky/Just Click’s With A Camera, PD via Flickr
> Picasso’s After Las Meninas photographed by Cea+ , CC BY2.0 via Flickr