Cultural events | Exhibitions | Museums
olga-picasso by Esprit de France
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An exhibition devoted to the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, Picasso's first wife

The Musée Picasso, located in the beautiful Hotel Salé in the heart of the Marais, is devoting an exhibition to the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, Picasso's first wife. Why focus on a character of the painter's private life rather than one of his artistic periods or one of his techniques? Certainly because the encounter with this woman corresponds in fact to relinquishing his most radical research, that of Cubism in the years that preceded the First World War when the Spanish painter worked in relationship with Braque. The latter then leaves for the war front and Picasso, who remains in Paris, is looking for an alternative to Cubism. He makes the acquaintance of Cocteau, a marvelous artist of many talents, a writer, a poet, a draftsman all at once, as well as a friend of Coco Chanel and of many other famous figures. Cocteau leads Picasso to a completely new project: a collaboration designing the sets and costumes of a ballet, Parade, the argument of which he has written and intends to convince Diaghilev to stage with his Ballets Russes which have been extremely popular in Paris since 1909. On this occasion, Picasso meets Olga, a star dancer of Diaghilev’s company, and falls in love with her. The following year, in 1918, they get married and settle in the Rue de la Boétie, a few steps away from the gallery of Paul Rosenberg, the new Picasso art dealer the couple met in Biarritz during their honeymoon (Cf. article on the exhibition "21 rue la Boétie" which retraces Paul Rosenberg’carreer, at the Musée Maillol).

We now see Picasso living in the beautiful districts of Paris and enjoying success with his new collectors. The artist, who has just seen a large retrospective devoted to Ingres, is now reviving a rather classical drawing, the fine and elegant line of which inaugurates a certain "return to order". Olga, his favourite model at this time, is often represented sitting, reading or writing, looking melancholy, which probably alludes to the fact that the young woman, who left Russia before the 1917 Revolution, has found herself cut off from her whole family for a long time. Picasso also achieves many touching portraits, in Pierrot or Harlequin, of their single son, Paul, born in 1921. From this happy period, the Museum shows admirable portraits of unexpected kindness, as well as photos and amateur movies that give us the impression of turning the pages of the family album. But in 1927, Picasso meets the young Marie-Thérèse Walter and begins to lead a double life which causes Olga to suffer deeply even if the couple, separated later on, never divorces. She dies in 1955 after having written almost daily to Pablo.

We advise you not to leave the museum environment without taking a walk in the neighboring streets where we can find a great number of modern and contemporary art galleries: the Karsten Greve gallery, the Perrotin gallery and the most recent one installed in the Passage du Retz, rue Charlot, the Tornabuoni gallery. At the beginning of rue Charlot, the Marché des Enfants Rouges, is the latest fashionable place where you can have lunch on the go or just an aperitif. Enjoy the atmosphere of trendy Paris!