PICASSO: The Classical Legacy

5th July to 29th September 2013 @ MACM

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In 1961 he offered the “Mas de Notre-Dame de Vie”, otherwise known as the “Lair of the Minotaur”, as a wedding gift to his future wife Jacqueline.

The pseudonym of Picasso’s villa in Mougins betrays one of the dominant creative, and perhaps dark, forces in the psyche of the great master. This is apparent in two of the celebrated etchings in the present exhibition that belong to the Minotaur theme. These comprise part of a series of one hundred engravings produced between 1931 and 1934, his first commission by Ambroise Vollard, the foremost French art dealer in this period; his legacy known to the world now as the Vollard Suite.

A single etching, “Naked woman sitting in front of curtain”, expresses one of a diverse range of subjects devoted to twenty-seven individual sheets. The remainder of the Vollard Suite thematically explored the Battle of Love, Rembrandt, The Blind Minotaur, Portraits of Vollard and The Sculptor’s Studio. Six etchings in the present exhibition belong to this latter subject. In the manner that depictions of the Minotaur expressed Picasso’s obsession with classical themes, Sculptor’s Studio was stylistically evocative of classical art, and demonstrates the master’s familiarity and passion with a range of ancient artistic media – from two-dimensional coins to three-dimensional sculpture.

Two original linocuts by PICASSO in the exhibition essentialise this classical obsession – in this case with artistic profiles – as exemplified in the Jacqueline plate on the ground floor: Tête de Femme de Profil (1959) and L’Homme barbu (1962). The latter was produced by the Master at Notre-Dame-de-Vie. 

From 1961 to 1973 – the last twelve years of his life in Mougins – he occupied this property, adjacent to the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Vie. This was to be a prolific period in the life of Picasso and, in effect, the house became a theatre of the artist’s ingenuity.


The classicizing tendencies in the ceramics, drawings, etchings and paintings of Picasso – and in this exhibition more specifically – complement the proximity of the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins to the master’s last bastion of creativity at Notre-Dame-de-vie. Moreover, they blend perfectly with the overarching concept of the MACM in which ancient and modern art blend so seamlessly in an area and region that has such an enduring heritage of ancient sites and a powerful current of modern artistic genius.

Curated by Leisa Paoli