Arts & Entertainment

Picasso’s daughter donates artwork by her father in Paris

By Maria D. Valderrama

Paris, Apr 14 (EFE).- Maya Ruiz-Picasso, the second of Pablo Picasso’s four children, has parted with some of the most sentimental pieces from her private collection, works being seen in public for the first time that help one understand the least-known periods in her father’s artistic career.

The group of works has been incorporated into the Paris Picasso Museum’s collection, which was founded on the same principle that now has resulted in the receipt of the new artwork: a donation with which the heiress has covered the payment of an inheritance tax bill.

In 1973, the law pushed by writer and then-Culture Minister Andre Malraux, created specifically for the enormous oeuvre of Picasso, enabled France to acquire 228 of the artist’s paintings, 158 sculptures, 1,495 drawings, 33 sketchbooks, 1,704 prints, 85 ceramic pieces and 77 other works.

That resolved the problem of the scarcity of Picasso’s works in French collections and permitted the family to cover taxes they would have been subject to amid a series of conflicts among the Spanish artist’s four separate families.

The eight works by Picasso (1881-1973) that his daughter has donated – most of them paintings – along with an ocean sculpture from his personal collection will be on display starting Saturday and through December 31 in a double exposition that reveals his most intimate side.

“My mother had the intuition that some of the works that she had the good fortune to inherit could find their niche in the museum and so she selected the works for which she had particular affection, like the portrait of her grandfather or (her father’s) sketchbook of drawings,” Diana Widmaier-Picasso, one of the curators of the exposition and Picasso’s granddaughter, told EFE.

Besides taking account of their sentimental value, Picasso’s daughter selected the works to donate based on the current gaps in the museum’s collection, with this donation being the family’s first in 30 years intended to help alleviate the absence of works from the artist’s final creative period, works that at the time were less highly esteemed by art critics than his earlier output.

The first of the two expositions will feature a realistic portrait of Jose Ruiz y Blasco, the artist’s father, whom he painted when he was 14 and which shows Picasso’s artistic mastery, even at a young age.

Each of the newly incorporated pieces will be placed on display in its own room surrounded by other related works from the museum’s permanent collection.

Among them are the affectionate portrait of Maya Ruiz-Picasso’s grandmother, another of the great treasures in the donation, as well as a Cubist image of the young Maya with a lollipop and “El bobo,” a work that exemplifies the artist’s return to his Spanish roots in the 1930s.

Also among the works is Maya Ruiz-Picasso’s sketchbook in which her father made sketches to teach her how to draw as a young girl, featuring works that she then graded as if she were his teacher.

Rounding out the donation is a small 1945 female statuette inspired by the art of the Paleolithic, a sketchbook from 1962, the 1971 portrait of a man and Picasso’s 1932 study of a mandolin player.

Born in 1935 from Picasso’s relationship with Marie-Therese Walter, Maya lived for a short time with her father and the major portion of her memories of childhood date back to World War II, first to the beginning of an existential crisis for Picasso and later when he spend years practically hidden away to avoid the Nazis.

However, the artist’s second daughter – 14 years younger than his first child, Paulo, and 12 and 14 years older than Claude and Paloma, Picasso’s children by the painter Francoise Gilot – was the most frequently drawn of the Cubist genius’s children.

“There are 12 portraits done between 1938 and 1939, besides the sketches with a moving tenderness and with such a classic style that even specialists are surprised that they were painted by Picasso,” said Widmaier-Picasso, who added that her mother was baptized in tribute to the artist’s deceased sister, who looked upon her birth as a type of resurrection.

Now elderly, and not attending the presentation of the exposition because of her fragile health, Maya only spent weekends with her father, along with some vacations, when Picasso was living with his new family and she acted as a nanny for Claude and Paloma.

The museum and the French government, which intervened to see to it that the donation was accomplished smoothly and properly, have not set a monetary value on the works and the family prefers not to provide any figures about the value of the pieces that remain in their collection.

When Picasso died, there were some 50,000 items – including paintings, documents, files, photos, sculptures and sketchbooks – among his possessions, and thus the list of works that have yet to be donated by family members or other owners is still extraordinarily long.

Over many decades, the artist’s heirs have donated dozens of pieces of his artwork under a 1970 French tax law allowing artistic works of national importance to be given to the state in lieu of tax payments.

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