With the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death next year, France and Spain will partner to organize an international exhibition dedicated to the artist’s legacy that will see shows staged across Europe and in the U.S. in 2023.
Together, the two European nations have set up a commission of leaders in the cultural space to head the event, which has been dubbed “The Picasso 1973-2023 Celebration.”
Heading the commission is Cécile Debray, the president of the Musée Picasso Paris. She will work alongside the artist’s grandson—Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, who founded a museum dedicated to Picasso in Andalusia—to put together the government-backed program.
Forty exhibitions and events have been slated to take place across museums and arts organizations in Europe and North America. Details of how the project will be funded have not been disclosed.
The agreement to put on the event series was forged during the most recent edition of the Franco-Spanish Summit, a forum that aims to strengthen diplomatic ties between the neighboring countries. As part of the agenda for the talks that took place on March 15 in the French province of Montauban, members of both governments addressed topics related to sustainability, immigration and defense. They also touched on matters related to the two countries’ cultural sectors, which are still recovering from the pandemic’s impact.
According to a statement released by the French culture ministry, the commission in charge of the transnational event series was set up to promote Picasso as an artist “who embodies the founding principles of Europe, made up of democratic states, defenders of human rights and freedom of expression.”
The statement cited Picasso’s famed 1937 painting Guernica, currently held at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid, as a key “anti-war symbol.”
In February, members of the European Union’s government posed symbolically in front of tapestry version of the painting that has long hung at the United Nations’s New York headquarters. The photograph was intended to signal support for an end to the war in Ukraine.
In a statement, spokespersons for the culture and foreign affairs ministries of both France and Spain said that their Picasso project aims to be, “one of the major European and international cultural events of the next few years.”