What do we associate with the name Pablo Picasso? And what did the Germans in the postwar era associate with him when he was at the height of his fame? Far more than we do. This is the main idea of the exhibition, which reveals a forgotten breadth, tension, and productivity that marked his appropriation. It deals not only with the artist, but with his audience, which interpreted Picasso’s art in very different ways in the Capitalist West and in the Socialist East. The German Picasso was a man shared and divided, but this division also lent wing to his reception. Since everyone questioned his art, it clearly had something to say to them all.
The exhibition features political works, such as the painting Massacre in Korea (1951) from the Musée Picasso in Paris. These are shown alongside some 150 exhibits that reflect the impact of Picasso’s work: exhibition views, posters, catalogues, press reports, letters, files, films, and television reports, as well as a theater curtain from the Berliner Ensemble on which Bertolt Brecht had “the peace dove militant of my brother Picasso” painted.
Picasso served as a figurehead and symbol for both systems and in both German states. He was a member of the French Communist Party and supported liberation movements as well as peace conferences. But he lived in the West and allowed bourgeois critics to conventionalize him as an apolitical genius, “the mystery of Picasso.” Which works were shown under Socialism, and which under Capitalism? How was his work conveyed? Did the West see only the art, and the East his politics? And how did the artist view things himself? Picasso, Shared and Divided examines the image that people took from Picasso’s pictures in the two Germanys. One focus is Peter and Irene Ludwig’s Picasso collection, which remains one of the largest to this day. When the Ludwigs made parts of it available to the GDR, they increased the number of works on view there by several times.
The exhibition was designed by the artist Eran Schaerf. Peter Nestler made the film Picasso in Vallauris.
The following is an overview of the different sections of the exhibition, some with more and others with less material.