Never-Before-Seen Sketchbooks of Drawings Picasso Made With His Daughter Maya Go on View in Paris

Picasso used to make Maya puppets, toys, and even a paper theater.

Pablo Picasso and Maya sitting on the steps of the perron of La Californie with, behind them, the sculptures La Chèvre and Tête de femme, Cannes, June 2, 1955. Musée National Picasso-Paris. Pablo Picasso personal archives, © Succession Picasso, 2022 / © Rights reserved, © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée National Picasso-Paris) / Adrien Didierjean.

The Picasso Museum in Paris is staging an exhibition of never-before-seen works by the Spanish master, bequeathed by his eldest child, Maya Ruiz-Picasso, in 2021.

The show features nine major works by the artist and personal family items dating from 1895 to 1971. The selection includes drawings, paintings, photographs, ephemera, a coloring in book, and an adorable how-to-paint book that the artist and his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter made for Maya.

Maya Picasso, <i>Maya au bateau</i> (1938). Photo © Succession Picasso 2022

Maya Picasso, Maya au bateau (1938). Photo © Succession Picasso 2022.

The exhibition, “Maya Ruiz-Picasso, Daughter Of Pablo,” was co-curated by Picasso Museum curator Emilia Philippot and Maya’s daughter Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso, who discovered drawings and sketchbooks by chance while going through storage. She showed her mother, who is now 86, and she remembered making the drawings with her father.

Maya recalled that time, paper, and pencils were in short supply then. “Who has never heard it said when looking at a canvas by Picasso, ‘A child could have done that!'” Diana wrote in the book accompanying the show. “Many of the artistic revolutions of the 20th century were greeted with mockery and scandal, it is true, but in Picasso’s case there is a hint of truth in that judgment. As Maya, his first daughter, recalls, ‘the mystery of life, and therefore of childhood, always filled that father of mine with interest.’”

Pablo Picasso, <i>Lettre à Maya</i> (1946). Photo © Succession Picasso 2022

Pablo Picasso, Lettre à Maya (1946). Photo © Succession Picasso 2022.

Picasso drew with Maya the way he had with his own father, who was a drawing professor, and the sketchbooks reveal this touching exchange.

“That’s probably why my father wrote in my exercise books and colored with my pencils. I still have fond memories of those moments when we met up in the kitchen to draw together. It was the only place in the apartment where it was warm,” Maya said, according to the Observer.

Pablo Picasso et Maya Ruiz-Picasso, <i>Pommes</i> (n.d). Photo © Succession Picasso 2022

Pablo Picasso et Maya Ruiz-Picasso, Pommes (n.d). Photo © Succession Picasso 2022.

The drawings also give insight into Picasso as a father and as an artist.

“There’s a beautiful page where he’s drawing a bowl and she’s drawing a bowl,” Diana told the Observer. “Sometimes she’s making an image and he’s doing another, showing her the right way to do it. Sometimes they would depict different scenes. Other times, he would draw a dog or a hat. Sometimes he’s using the whole page to draw one particular thing. Other times, he’s depicting certain scenes, scenes of the circus. It’s very interesting.”

Pablo Picasso, Maya à la poupée et au cheval (1938). Photo © Succession Picasso 2022

“Maya Ruiz-Picasso, Daughter Of Pablo” is on view at Musée Picasso in Paris through December 31, 2022.

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