Diana Widmaier-Picasso, who is the daughter of Maya Widmaier-Picasso and Pierre Widmaier, a shipping magnate, and the granddaughter of Picasso and Marie-Thérèse, curated the exhibition. She is well aware of the usual misanthropic, misogynistic characterizations of Picasso. “He’s a man of metamorphoses,” she tells me carefully in Paris, a few days before the vernissage of her exhibition. “A complex person to grasp.”
Portrait de Maya de profil, 1943. © Succession Picasso 2017
Sara Wiborg Murphy (1883–1975) and her husband Gerald Murphy (1888–1964) were “muses of modernism,” as wealthy American expatriates who entertained and supported many artists and writers in France the 1920s. It is thought that the characters of Nicole and Dick Diver in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night were based on Sara and Gerald. Sara had a charming personality, was a good friend of Picasso’s, and he did several portraits of her in 1923.
When Picasso died on April 8, 1973, Jacqueline prevented his children, Paloma and Claude, from attending the funeral because Picasso had disinherited them after their mother, Françoise, had published her book, Life with Picasso. In 1986, Roque committed suicide by shooting herself in the castle on the French Riviera where she had lived with Picasso until his death.
Gilot met Picasso in 1943, when she was twenty-one years old and living in Paris during the German Occupation. Strong-willed, extremely self-confident, and aspiring to be an artist in her own right, Gilot refused to humor Picasso’s love of the romantic chase or to play the role of an innocent and impressionable ingenue. When Picasso first brought her to his studio, Gilot dispensed with any pretense of resisting his advances, prompting him to say, “How do you expect me to seduce anyone under conditions like that? If you’re not going to resist—well, then, it’s out of the question. I’ll have to think it over.” Picasso seemingly recovered quickly from his professed discomfort, and Gilot soon replaced Dora Maar as his primary mistress.
Walter remained loyal to Picasso even after their affair ended, although she declined his proposal of marriage following the death of his wife Olga in 1955. In 1977, four years after the artist’s death, she hung herself.
While married to Olga and having an affair (and child) with Marie-Therese, Picasso found a new love interest. Dora Maar, a French photographer and painter, appears in Picasso’s famous Guernica.
She was 17; he was a married 47 year-old. She was his greatest muse; he was the love of her life. On the back of one of Picasso’s poems, she wrote, “I love you and give you everything I have.”
The period when he was with her was a very creative time for Picasso. She was his last muse and appeared in more than 400 of his paintings and ceramics. The artist died in 1973, with Jacqueline by his side. Thirteen years later, she decided to commit suicide after concluding that she had accomplished everything for him.
With Françoise Gilot, a 21-year old aspiring painter and law student, he had two children –Claude and Paloma. She was deeply in love with the painter, but even that feeling was not strong enough to survive his difficult behaviour. She could not stand his abuse and philandering and left him in 1953. In 1964 she published her memoirs called Life with Picasso and moved to New York.