Letter to the editor—Picasso’s “grey” period
All artists, including great masters such as Caravaggio, had, and had to have, an ambivalent relationship towards the religious and political establishment.
By The Art Newspaper readers. Web only
Published online: 02 September 2010
The recent interview with John Richardson (July/August, p58) made interesting reading. I find it strange that he implies Picasso had weak political commitments; unfortunately many others have also wrongly assumed this to be the case. Calling his commitment “grey” is somewhat absurd, since this commitment included a dangerous stay in Nazi-occupied Paris. I beg therefore to disagree with Richardson’s comments on Picasso’s commitment. His implied criticism of Picasso for desiring a retrospective in Madrid during Franco’s dictatorship is also unjust.
I am an artist and an atheist. I have a long history of exhibitions at the Mdina Cathedral Museum, the central Catholic Museum for the Arts in Malta, however. This does not make me any less of an atheist. All artists, including great masters such as Caravaggio, had, and had to have, an ambivalent relationship towards the religious and political establishment. If we confuse this with an artist’s personal credo we could end up defining the great anti-Stalinists Mikhail Bulgakov or Osip Mandelstam as collaborators. Richardson should not forget the human factor, or how individuals behave differently in different circumstances, without altering their inner convictions.
—Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci, art historian and artist, Malta
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