To Dream, to Collect

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Rome has always been the city for a certain poetic inspiration and soul amusement. Rome was the city of the “Italian Journey”, to quote Goethe, but also for those visual artists who moved there to live, to assimilate the aesthetics of extraordinary ancient ruins and palaces, of Tevere river and of the good life and mood that gets out of every corner. 

Picasso was, of course, a great Roman lover: he was a painter, so his passion for art and beauty was satisfying in a location as the eternal city; he was a dandy and a passionate women lover, and he moved there for a residency right after his mistress broke up with him before their announced marriage; he was a Bohemian too, and Rome was a perfect way to detach from Paris hard life, and the Spanish too. So, Picasso Roman period represented a good era. The Spanish artist moved there in 1917 with his colleague and friend Jean Cocteau. He was 35 years old.

 

Pablo Picasso, Parade, 1917, a large painting created by the Spanish artist in Rome for Djagilev's famous Russian ballet at Palazzo Barberini.

 

The purpose of the long-stay was a theatrical mise en scene “Parade” by Cocteau. The “team” was composed of these amazing artists and intellectuals: the musician Erik Satie, Cocteau of course, the choreographer Léonide Massine and the genius Djaghilev with his ensemble. Picasso was commissioned for the costumes, the stage and curtains for the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

 

Olga Kokhlova, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau. 

 

So Rome was an amazing excuse to share time, ideas and experiences together with this group of vivid and rare people in a romantic context full of history and works of art. Pablo Picasso stayed in Rome for two months, from February to April: not a long period, but enough time to meet the dancer Olga Khokhlova, who became his first wife. The amazing Russian choreographer Dhiaghilev was easily convinced by Cocteau to call Picasso instead of Léon Bakst and Benois, who made the costumes for the previous show. For Picasso Rome was fundamental for the development of his artistic research.

 

Pablo Picasso, L’Italienne, l’Arlequin et Femme au collier. 

 

He started to move his style away from cubism, and he painted three masterpieces: L’Italienne, l’Arlequin et Femme au collier. So, via Margutta studio, as reported by Valentina Moncada in her publication “Picasso a Roma”, was a venue for Picasso too who was in love with Villa Borghese. Today outside of that door, we can still read “Studj di Pittura e Scultura” (Paintings and Sculptures Studios), at via Margutta 53/b.

Cover image: Pablo Picasso, portrait. Courtesy Wikipedia.  

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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