Entertainment & Arts

Picasso portraits to go on show at National Portrait Gallery

(from left) Portrait of Olga Picasso by Pablo Picasso, 1923; Private Collection © Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2016; Woman in a Hat (Olga) by Pablo Picasso, 1935; Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d’art moderne © Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2016 Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Rights reserved. Image copyright Succession Picasso/DACS London
Image caption (from left) Portrait of Olga Picasso by Pablo Picasso, 1923; Woman in a Hat (Olga) by Pablo Picasso, 1935

A major Pablo Picasso exhibition - the first of its kind for 20 years - is to open at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) this autumn.

Picasso Portraits, which opens on 6 October, will display more than 75 works from all phases of the Spanish painter's career.

The NPG's director Dr Nicholas Cullinan said the exhibition would demonstrate Picasso's "extraordinary range".

It will feature well-known masterpieces as well as works never seen in the UK.

The latter includes a cubist portrait from 1910 of the German art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago.

The exhibition will run in London until February before it moves to Spain's Museu Picasso, Barcelona, from March to June 2017.

Speaking at Monday's launch event at the NPG, the Museu Picasso's director Bernardo Laniado-Romero described Picasso as "a breaker of rules".

'Full of surprises'

He said the choice of portraits would show a "different Picasso" and that humour would be a key element.

"It will be an exhibition full of surprises for the public at large," he said. "One of the pleasures is to be able to be able present a number of works that are not well known."

Picasso Portraits is the first large-scale exhibition devoted to the subject since the shows Picasso and Portraiture show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1996.

Prof Elizabeth Cowling, the curator of the new show, said she had left out some famous Picasso works - including his "voluptuous" reclining nudes - because she thought they saw the the artist "engaging with a different tradition, not the tradition of portraiture".

But she was excited at the loan of the cubist portrait of Kahnweiler saying: "It's hardly ever left Chicago and we were absolutely thrilled to get it."

The exhibition will open with a series of self portraits, showing the change in Picasso's style from his early realist work when he was a teenager at the end of the 19th Century.

Other subjects of his portraits and caricatures include Jean Cocteau, Igor Stravinsky and his wife Olga Picasso.

Dr Cullinan said: "The exhibition gathers together major loans from public and private collections that demonstrate the breadth of Picasso's oeuvre and the extraordinary range of styles he employed across all media and from all periods of his career."

For the first time at the gallery, support from exhibition sponsor Goldman Sachs means the first 100 tickets will be priced at £5 every Friday morning.

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