Pablo Picasso
Massacre in Korea, 1951
Musée national Picasso-Paris
© Succession Picasso/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021
Photo: bpk/RMN-Grand Palais/Mathieu Rabeau

Pi­cas­so, Shared and Di­vid­ed - The Artist and His Im­age in East and West Ger­many Picasso


Mu­se­um Lud­wig
50667 Köln

Comment s'y rendre ?

What do we as­so­ci­ate with Pab­lo Pi­cas­so? And what as­so­ci­a­tions with him did the Ger­man peo­ple have in mind dur­ing the post-war years, when he was at the height of his fame? Far more than we do: This is the main idea of the ex­hi­bi­tion, which re­veals a for­got­ten breadth, ten­sion, and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of th­ese ap­pro­pri­a­tions. It deals not on­ly with the artist, but with his au­di­ence, which in­ter­pret­ed Pi­cas­so’s art in dif­fer­ent ways in the cap­i­tal­ist West and in the so­cial­ist East. The Ger­man Pi­cas­so was di­vid­ed, but this di­vi­sion al­so sti­m­u­lat­ed the re­cep­tion: Be­cause ev­ery­one ques­tioned his art, it had some­thing to say for ev­ery­one.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures po­lit­i­cal works, such as the paint­ing Mas­sacre in Ko­rea (1951) from the Musée Pi­cas­so in Paris. Th­ese are shown along­side some 150 ex­hi­bits that re­flect the im­pact of Pi­cas­so’s work: ex­hi­bi­tion views, posters, ca­t­a­logues, press re­ports, let­ters, files, films, and tele­vi­sion re­ports, as well as a the­ater cur­tain from the Ber­lin­er Ensem­ble on which Ber­tolt Brecht had “the peace dove mil­i­tant of my brother Pi­cas­so” paint­ed.

Pi­cas­so served as a fig­ure­head and sym­bol for both sys­tems and in both Ger­man states. He was a mem­ber of the French Com­mu­nist Par­ty and sup­port­ed strug­gles for lib­er­a­tion as well as peace con­fer­ences. But he lived in the West and al­lowed bour­geois crit­ics to con­ven­tio­n­al­ize him as an apo­lit­i­cal ge­nius, “the mys­tery of Pi­cas­so". Which works were shown un­der so­cial­ism, and which un­der cap­i­tal­ism? How was his work con­veyed? Did the West see on­ly the art, and the East his politics? And how did the artist view things him­self? Pi­cas­so, Shared and Di­vid­ed ex­amines the im­age that peo­ple took from Pi­cas­so’s pic­tures in the two Ger­manys. One fo­cus is Peter and Irene Lud­wig’s Pi­cas­so col­lec­tion, which re­mains one of the largest to this day.