Picasso's red period - heading for Liverpool

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Pablo Picasso was the most celebrated artist of the 20th century when, living under Nazi occupation in exile in Paris, he stunned the world with the announcement that he had joined the French Communist Party.

The enlistment to the casue of perhaps the greatest living creative genius of the day was an incredible coup for Moscow and one which has divided scholars of art and politics ever since. Some cynics doubted his convictions, claiming they were merely typical of the fashionable views espoused in the intellectual leftist circles in which he mixed. Others believe his art was never to recover its former glories as the great showman and extrovert found himself enmeshed in the increasingly bitter propaganda battles of the Cold War.

Now British audiences will be given the chance to make up their own minds about Picasso's long red period as a member of the communist party, a relationship which survived the Hungarian uprising and Prague spring, keeping him loyal right up until his death in 1973. A major exhibition of more than 150 works by the Spanish painter will go on display at Tate Liverpool next year in a bid to throw new light on this controversial chapter in his extraordinarily productive career.

Among the stars of the show will be his monumental The Charnel House, not been seen in Britain for half a century, which was inspired by images of liberated concentration camps. The exhibition, being staged in collaboration with the Albertina in Vienna will feature The Rape of the Sabine Women, a variation on David's masterpiece painted at the height of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. There will also be examples of The Dove of Peace, which went on to become the instantly recognisable symbol for the international peace movement.

Picasso: Peace and Freedom, which follows Tate Liverpool's blockbusting Gustav Klimt exhibition during the city's year as Capital of Culture, follows years of planning and painstaking research which took experts to the Picasso Institute in Paris where much of his correspondence is held.

Tate Liverpool director Christoph Grunenberg, hopes audiences will develop a more subtle appreciation of the artist in the years after 1945. "It is really looking at Picasso during the Cold War and driving away from this myth of him as a creative genius and playboy with this compulsive expressive talent, for a more nuanced view," he said. "People have tried to downplay Picasso's political involvement but he was a full party member and was clearly highly committed to the peace movement," Mr Grunenberg added.

One of the things that made Picasso and the communist's unlikely bedfellows was the party's official embrace of the Social Realist School and official opposition to the Modern movement of which the "decadent" Picasso was perhaps the greatest exponent.

But his long exile from his native Spain in opposition to the regime of General Franco coupled with the brutal experiences of life during the Nazi occupation of Paris, meant he saw communism and the ideal of peace as the key to a world free of fascism.

There was a severe backlash following Picasso's public unveiling as a communist. Protests by right-wing groups were held at exhibitions after liberation and he was barred from entry to the United States. But the artist began to travel widely, addressing public audiences for the first time, and giving donations to causes including a one million Franc gift to striking French coal miners. He joined protests against the Korean War, and the execution of Nikos Beloyannis, the Greek communist and resistance leader.

He went on to receive the Stalin Peace Prize and the World Peace Prize, which he shared with the American singer Paul Robeson and Chilean writer Pablo Neruda though later declined the Legion d'honneur.

But in 1953 following Stalin's death, Picasso's stylised portrait of the young dictator opened up a split with the French communists who objected to its lack of realism. Events in Hungary further cooled the relationship but Picasso would not desert the party despite growing reservations, preferring to express himself in the prodigious output that characterised the final decades of his life. Of course not everyone bought in to the idea of Picasso as the left wing figurehead. Salvador Dali famously remarked: "Picasso is a painter, so am I; Picasso is Spanish, so am I; Picasso is a communist, neither am I." But this view is unfair, believes Mr Grunenberg, who has seen a seismic shift in the appreciation of his later work since the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. "This does not wash any more. There are many fantastic pieces which will be part of the exhibition – he kept re-inventing himself and starting new themes of painting throughout. The work is actually fantastic," he said.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor