New Exhibition Explores Picasso’s Marriage to Russian Ballerina Olga Khokhlova
The Musée Picasso in Paris delves into the artist's tumultuous first marriage.
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.
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