Pablo Picasso<br/>
<em>Portrait of a woman</em> (<em>Portrait de femme</em>) 1938<br/>
oil on canvas<br/>
98.0 × 77.5 cm<br/>
Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne-Centre de création industrielle<br/>
Gift of the artist, 1947 (AM 2729 P)<br/>
© Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency, 2022<br/>
Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerditchian/Dist. RMN-GP

The Picasso Century

Two years after Pablo Picasso’s death in 1973, French biographer Pierre Cabanne published Le Siècle de Picasso (Picasso’s Century), a book that placed Picasso’s inventions at the origins of modern art. Further biographies, by authors such as Pierre Daix and John Richardson, have revealed that Picasso’s long life and career were characterised by a close weaving of relationships, multiple exchanges and continuous dialogues with his peers, spanning decades from the Belle Époque to the Cold War.

Most retrospectives of Picasso’s work have focused on the artist alone, suggesting that his extraordinary career of creative experiment and stylistic virtuosity was propelled by his singular genius, created without external influence. However, Picasso was an artist in and of his time, absorbing or reacting against the ideas and actions of artists and intellectuals around him. Similarly, his geographical location and social standing, which changed throughout his career, all played a part. Whether in the run-down environs of Montmartre, where he began as a struggling artist among many, or on the glittering French Riviera, Picasso voraciously consumed his surroundings.

The Picasso Century places the artist in context: embedded within both the unprecedented and the prosaic events of his time and alongside works by some of his many peers. Through this approach, we gain a unique glimpse into Picasso’s life and career, revealing his constant confrontation and connection with the world in which his work evolved.