Pablo Picasso

Picasso: Keeping it in the family

Picasso’s granddaughter is preparing the catalogue raisonné of the artist’s sculpture, with funding from the Gagosian Gallery

A catalogue raisonné of Pablo Picasso’s sculpture is now being prepared by the artist’s granddaughter. The author, Diana Widmaier Picasso, is also the granddaughter of the artist’s oft-depicted blond lover and muse from the 1930s, Marie-Thérèse Walter, and the daughter of Maya Picasso.

Up to now, in the absence of a genuine catalogue raisonné of the sculpture, scholars and the trade have turned to the catalogue by Werner Spies published in conjunction with the exhibition “Picasso sculpteur” held at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2000, with the collaboration of the Musée Picasso. Before that exhibition, Spies’s earlier volume on Picasso’s sculptures, published in 1971, had served as a default catalogue raisonné.

Ms Widmaier Picasso estimates that some 2,000 sculptures by Picasso exist around the world.

Dealers who had represented the Picasso estate on earlier documentation projects had not been interested in this one, because in the past the artist’s sculptures tended to bring lower prices than his paintings, said Jose Martos, a dealer working with Ms Picasso who secured funding from the Gagosian Gallery for the catalogue, which will be published by DWP Editions of Paris, an imprint established specifically for this project.

Galleries such as Krugier, Pace/Wildenstein and Aquavella were said to have sought a role in the project, once the Gagosian Gallery had agreed to sponsor it. “Larry Gagosian was the first to react,” said Ms Widmaier Picasso, “But he is the sponsor, and we are completely independent”.

The first volume of the sculpture catalogue is expected to be published in several years, said Ms Widmaier Picasso, who noted she was just beginning to form her catalogue committee after two years devoted to research. Meanwhile Ms Widmaier Picasso will be publishing another book, Picasso: art can only be erotic, focusing on sexuality in his work (Prestel, 2005). The title comes from Picasso’s response–“L’art ne peut qu’être érotique”–to a question posed in the 1960s by the art historian Jean Leymarie about the difference between art and sexuality.

Another new Picasso book, Picasso; the real family story, (Prestel), has just been completed by Ms Widmaier Picasso’s brother, Olivier Widmaier Picasso.

“When I was a child, we didn’t have so many family photos, but I remember that we had a lot of family portraits on the wall. For me it was natural to see my mother with a very funny face, with a nose on the side, dressed in a red dress. And it was funny to look at my grandmother with two eyes on her profile,” says Olivier Picasso, who, like his sister, never met his grandfather. “For me, this was normal. I did not miss the man, because I had all the proof of his existence on the walls, on sculptures on the tables, and in the memories of my own mother.”

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 153 December 2004