New Exhibition Explores Picasso’s Marriage to Russian Ballerina Olga Khokhlova

The Musée Picasso in Paris delves into the artist's tumultuous first marriage.

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Pablo Picasso, Femme lisant (1920). Photo ©Musée de Grenoble.
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Pablo Picasso, Olga Khokhlova à la mantille (1917). Photo ©Equipo Gasull.
Pablo Picasso, Olga Khokhlova à la mantille (1917). Photo ©Equipo Gasull.
Pablo Picasso, La Salle à manger de l'artiste (1918-1919). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.
Pablo Picasso, La Salle à manger de l'artiste (1918-1919). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.
Pablo Picasso, Mère et enfant au bord de la mer (1921). Photo ©Art Institute of Chicago, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.
Pablo Picasso, Mère et enfant au bord de la mer (1921). Photo ©Art Institute of Chicago, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.
Pablo Picasso, Olga Pensive (1923). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris)/Mathieu Rabeau.
Pablo Picasso, Olga Pensive (1923). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris)/Mathieu Rabeau.
Pablo Picasso, Le peintre et son modele (1926). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.
Pablo Picasso, Le peintre et son modele (1926). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.
Pablo Picasso, Grand nu au fauteuil rouge (May 5, 1929). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.
Pablo Picasso, Corrida (1935). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.
Pablo Picasso, Corrida (1935). Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau.

Pablo Picasso is known for his many muses, but a new exhibition at the Musée national Picasso in Paris focuses on the first woman to whom he said, “I do.”

“Olga Picasso” is a survey of works from the years 1917 to 1935, when Picasso was married to Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova. More than 350 paintings, drawings, writings, and photographs chronicle Picasso’s production during these interwar years.

Khokhlova was a dancer in Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. She met the artist in the Spring of 1917 in Rome, when he was creating costumes and decorations for a ballet, Parade, in which she danced. Barely a few months later, on July 12 of that year, they were married.

Picasso painted Khokhlova extensively in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In 1921, they had a son, Paul, but by 1924, their relationship became more distant, and eventually they separated in 1935, although they remained married until Kholkhova passed away, in 1955. The year of their separation, Picasso temporarily ceased artistic production. (Picasso met Marie-Thérèse Walter, the mistress who warranted her own Picasso exhibition at the Tate Modern, in 1927.)

The exhibition shows how Picasso’s feelings towards his spouse and muse shifted over the years, but also showcases the other themes preoccupying the artist at the time. Spanning 14 rooms over two floors, subjects range from the personal belongings of Kholkhova and Picasso’s studio, domestic and family scenes, to bullfights, crucifixions, the circus, and more.

Olga Picasso” is on view at the Musée national Picasso in Paris until September 3, 2017.


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