press release

Picasso and the Exodus. A Spanish History of Art in Resistance
March 15–August 25, 2019

Picasso and the Exodus. A Spanish History of Art in Resistance Les Abattoirs presents an exhibition dedicated for the first time to the relationship between Picasso and the Spanish Exodus. It explores how the historical and personal upheaval of the Exodus affected Picasso and many artists of his generation.

In 1937, a year after the start of the Spanish Civil War, while he was working on a painting commissioned for the Spanish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Paris, Picasso learned of the bombing of Guernica and radically altered his initial theme.

In 1939, after three years of war, 500,000 Spaniards crossed the French-Spanish border before transferring to refugee camps. Following La Retirada, many Spaniards who were living abroad, like Picasso, who had been living in Paris since 1900, thus became political exiles.

The situation strengthened Picasso’s political engagement against Francoism, both in his art and in his support for the Spanish exiles, particularly artists. 40 of them are exhibited alongside him, such as Óscar Domínguez, Apel.les Fenosa, Luis Fernández, Julio González, Roberta González, Hans Hartung, Antonio Rodríguez Luna, Joan Miró, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, and Remedios Varo. Also evoked are those who created while living in refugee camps, as was the case for Antoni Clavé or J.Fín and Javier Vilató, Picasso’s nephews; or while working as a nurse, like photographer Friedel Bohny-Reiter. Making the fervent wish only to return to Spain once liberated from Francoism, Picasso died in 1973 without having seen his native country again.

A contemporary art section, inviting 20 artists, completes this exhibition. The works bear testament to Picasso's message of freedom and peace while others address the theme of exile today.