The Picasso Museum – ©Anaïs Costet

Formerly archi-popular, the Picasso museum no longer attracts crowds. Until recently, endless lines stretched on rue de Thorigny, in front of the entrance to the prestigious institution. This is no longer the case. Is the health crisis to blame? Yes, but not only. Until 2019, the museum was 60% frequented by tourists. However, international tourists have not returned and the French public is not at ease rendez-vous no more.

But there are other reasons for this disaffection, as we learn from an edifying article in L'Obs published in mid-April. “Overexposure, public weariness, controversies over his misogyny: the Spanish painter, as his jubilee [for the 50 years of his death] approaches, is no longer popular,” writes David Caviglioli.

First problem: under the reign of the dynamic curator Laurent Le Bon (2014-2022), who succeeded the controversial and authoritarian Anne Baldassari (2005-2014), Picasso exhibitions multiplied across France. To the point of dizziness.. L'Obs explains: “Laurent Le Bon created a network, “Picasso-Mediterranean”, with 78 institutions which, from 2017 to 2019, hosted a “traveling program” on Picasso in France, in Italy , in Spain, in Greece, in Israel, in Morocco. Two intense years of “Picassomania”, with exhibitions “Matisse-Picasso” (in Nice), “Godard-Picasso” (in Arles), “Picasso and the antique” (in Naples), “Picasso and the performing arts » (in Izmir).

Once miserly, the Picasso Museum began to lend to anyone who asked, and in particular to regional institutions, in previously unpublished volumes. » On paper the idea was good. But the concept has, it seems, been taken too far. Journalist David Caviogli writes: “Picassomania has turned into Picassomania. It's raining Picasso on France. The commissioners discuss topics to the point of dizziness.

Over the last two years, we have been treated to “Picasso under the Occupation” at the Grenoble Museum, “Picasso Illustrator” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Tourcoing, “Les Musiques de Picasso” at the Philharmonie, “Picasso, Baigneuses et bathers” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon, “Picasso the Stranger” at the National Museum of the History of Immigration, “The Louvres of Pablo Picasso” at the Louvre-Lens.

We must add the exhibitions of the Picasso Museum itself: “Picasso-Rodin”, “Picasso and the comic strip”, “Picasso in the image”, “Picasso poet”. The year 2022 is off to a strong start, with no less than two new Picasso exhibitions, which continue to explore the Andalusian's work. »

In view of the public's disaffection, the magazine founded by the late Jean Daniel asks the question: "Has Picasso gone out of fashion?" » In any case, he seems to be the victim of a “Picasso bashing”, especially popular among those under thirty, including in certain American universities where the brilliant artist is described as the incarnation of the patriarchal painter, a monster of selfishness, even “a sick man” who “mistreated women”, according to an Australian art historian.

In France, recalls L'Obs, "a recent, and widely distributed, episode of the feminist podcast "Did Venus shave her pussy? "made Picasso a repulsive figure for politicized youth – precisely those who frequent museums." For part of the youth, he is the incarnation of toxic masculinity as well as white privilege, absolute misogynist, pervert, tormentor of Dora Maar and Françoise Gilot, rapist, child molester, racist, thief of African art.”

This would explain the loss of momentum of the Hôtel Salé, which has housed the most important Picasso collection in the world since 1985. Even the supervisors have the blues, it seems. Some fall into depression. In L'Obs, the new curator Cécile Debray, who took office at the start of the year, blurted out: "It's very difficult to monitor empty rooms."

Text: Katia Barillot

22.04.22

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