Tate Liverpool exhibition to celebrate political Picasso





Picasso's cold war career as a highly political painter, peace campaigner and tireless fundraiser for leftwing causes will be revealed in an exhibition at Tate Liverpool next spring that will include letters from world leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Ho Chi Minh, as well as a telegram from Fidel Castro congratulating the artist on being awarded the Soviet Union's international peace prize.

Christoph Grunenberg, the gallery's director, said the exhibition would explode the myth that Picasso was "a playboy extrovert … more concerned with chasing women than world politics".

Picasso himself said: "I have not painted the war because I am not the kind of painter who goes out like a photographer for something to depict. But I have no doubt war is in these paintings."

The exhibition begins in 1944, the year he joined the French communist party. He remained a member until his death in 1973, and Lynda Morris, the curator, said the legend that he was the party's largest individual donor is probably true.

He rarely gave money, but gave innumerable works to be reproduced as fund raising calendars, Christmas cards, silk scarves or limited edition prints, so many that the Communist journal l'Humanité had a full time staff member working with him on producing them.

She found dozens of boxes of political correspondence in the archives of the Picasso Museum in Paris, showing that he was in constant touch with peace groups, refugee aid schemes and women's groups, in Europe, north and south America, and Israel. He also supported hospitals and homes in France sheltering refugees from the Spanish civil war.

The exhibition opens with a painting last seen in Britain half a century ago, the 1944 Charnel House, with echoes of his famous Guernica, inspired by the first horrific images from the liberated concentration camps, and newspaper accounts of a Spanish Republic family killed while sheltering in their kitchen...


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