France and Spain to mark 50 years since Picasso’s death with year of exhibitions

From the Prado museum to the Pompidou Centre and New York's Met, the art world has mobilised to stage "an unprecedented" 42 exhibitions marking 50 years since Picasso's death, it was announced on Monday.

France and Spain to mark 50 years since Picasso's death with year of exhibitions
Pablo Picasso's "Las Meninas" on show at the Prado Museum in Madrid Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Prepared over the past 18 months by France and Spain, the “Year of Picasso” initiative will involve “38 very important art institutions in Europe and the United States,” Spanish Culture Minister Miquel Iceta told reporters.

The aim is to “show off all the facets” of Picasso, said French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak, describing him as “the most famous and emblematic modern artist”.

Picasso was born in the Spanish city of Malaga in 1881 and died in Mougins on the French Riviera in 1973.

A series of talks about him and his work will also be held alongside the exhibition.

The celebrations will begin on September 23rd at Madrid’s Mapfre Foundation with the exhibit “Pablo Picasso and the breaking down of sculpture” and will run until April 2024 with the closing exhibit at the Petit Palais in Paris.

Although most events will take place in Spain, France and the United States, others will happen in Germany, Switzerland, Romania and Belgium.

Among the institutions involved in the celebrations are the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Madrid’s Prado, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Picasso museums in Barcelona and Paris.

“We want to present Picasso exactly how he was,” by highlighting his “artistic legacy” and the “permanence of his work”, the Spanish culture minister said. 

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New French law could streamline return of Nazi-plundered art

Senators in France will examine a bill to streamline the process for the restitution of cultural property in public collections that had been looted as a result of anti-Semitic persecution between January 1933 and May 1945.

New French law could streamline return of Nazi-plundered art

The purpose of the bill, which will be debated on Tuesday, is to facilitate and accelerate the restitution of works in public collections that were looted from Jewish people in the period between Adolf Hitler’s rise to power as chancellor of Germany to the surrender of the Nazis at the end of World War II.

It is intended to establish an administrative mechanism to simplify the procedure for returning looted property that has since entered public collections, thus creating a framework law to avoid the need to introduce specific laws every time a piece of property is removed from public collections and returned to their rightful owners.

Works of art, books and musical instruments by the million were seized from Jewish people by Hitler’s supporters over that period.

Some items were found and returned to their owners after the immediate post-war period, and more were returned after 1995 after President Jacques Chirac’s recognition of France’s responsibility for the deportation of the Jews of France. 

But thousands of other looted cultural goods have not been identified and are still circulating today on the art market, or have entered the collections of public museums and libraries. 

Property in public collections can currently only be restituted by the adoption of a law, allowing for an exception to the principle of inalienability of these collections. 

Such restitutions have been rare until now, notably because of the process of removal from the public domain. A law of April 21st, 2022 authorised the handing over of 15 works from public collections, looted before and during the Second World War, including a painting by Gustav Klimt entitled Rosebushes under the Trees, kept by the Musée d’Orsay.

Under the draft bill, a decision to remove items from public collections can only be made after consulting a specialised administrative commission, responsible for establishing certain items were looted in the first place and recommending that they be returned.

This role would be entrusted to the Commission pour l’indemnisation des victimes de spoliations antisémites pendant l’Occupation (CIVS).