French president inaugurates major Picasso exhibition

Sylvie Corbet - Associated Press
French president inaugurates major Picasso exhibition

France's President Emmanuel Macron visits the "Picasso 1932: Erotic Year" exhibition at the Picasso museum in Paris, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. Macron said he likes in Picasso's paintings the "great sensuality" and at the same time, the "political meaning" especially in the years leading to the World War II. Ian Langsdon/pool photo via AP

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has inaugurated a major Picasso exhibition in Paris, focusing on one key year in the Spanish master's art and life.

After visiting the show for an hour and a half with his wife Brigitte, Macron said he likes in Picasso's paintings a "great sensuality" and at the same time a "political meaning" especially in the years leading up to World War II.

The "Picasso 1932. Erotic Year" show displays many portraits of Picasso mistress Marie-Therese Walter, including a famous masterpiece, "The Dream," and a "Girl Before a Mirror," a treasure of the Museum of Modern Art in New York that rarely travels.

Macron, an art and literature lover, enjoyed the visit in the presence of members of Picasso's family, including Maya Widmaier-Picasso, the daughter the master had with Walter.

The exhibition displays colorful, surreal paintings inspired by Picasso's young lover, but also many documents, archives and photos.

Macron noted Picasso could "live up to three or four lives at the same time," sharing his time between his wife, Olga Khokhlova, and his mistress, "which wasn't going without some kind of violence for everyone."

Macron said he has a very strong personal memory of discovering Picasso's paintings for the first time in a museum in his hometown of Amiens in northern France, at the age of 12 or 13.

"I can tell you that for the young teenager I was ... this was an event. I do remember it very well. I was moved, hit," he told reporters.

Macron said that it would be "great" if a Picasso painting could be displayed at the Elysee presidential palace.

"I would like, indeed, open the Elysee to modern, contemporary painters and other artists. This is a project," he said.

The curator of the exhibition, Laurence Madeline, said that 1932 was "decisive" for Picasso who turned 51 that year — "an important moment in the middle of his existence, and the year of his first retrospective including 30 years of artwork since his youth."

The exhibition "Picasso 1932. Erotic Year" at the Picasso National Museum in Paris runs from Oct. 10 to Feb. 11.

It is then scheduled to open at the Tate Modern in London, which co-organized the show, from March 8 to Sept. 9.

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