Picasso’s intimate jewels on unknown passion

One can imagine Picasso’s anger in 1950 when his partner at the time, Françoise Gilot, told the artist that he did not like one of the jewels that he had created and that he had given him a silver pendant with a horned head, named Satiro. “It weighs too much,” he dared to comment.

Now guarded in a showcase at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, it was by no means the first to offer him: an image taken by the photographer testifies to the existence of another pendant engraved by the man from Malaga in 1946; It is the figure of about four inches of a female faun, also with horns and sitting like a sphinx. Gilot said that it was a bone that the painter collected on a walk together on the beach in the south of France.

“This is Adam’s rib, I will engrave an Eve on it,” he said. These are two of the intimate anecdotes that hide some of the 86 pieces, many of them never exhibited, from the unique exhibition ‘Picasso and the artist’s jewels’, which until September 26 explores one of the less known and studied facets of the artist .

“They are unique pieces or of which very few copies exist, because they were conceived as gifts for lovers, relatives or friends. They are jewels of love and friendship”, points out the director of the Picasso, Emmanuel Guigon, who would curate the exhibition together with Manon Lecaplain , who points out that these are “intimate objects, not public works, which make the artist more accessible and allow one to understand Picasso’s relationships with others as thermometers and catalysts of emotions.”

Many of the jewels created by Picasso, little documented, have been lost or are in private collections difficult to locate, laments Lecaplain, who with this project, reflected in the catalog of the exhibition, has identified and deciphered all the known today .

The beginning of what Picasso himself described as “true passion” must be sought in 1936, when he fell in love with Dora Maar and set out to create jewelry for her. First he bought pendants, rings and brooches in the markets and traces of Royan and before giving them to them he engraved, painted or drew them. Meanwhile, Maar, as he did with the ‘Guernica’, photographically documented the creative process of the painter.

Then, in the summers they spent in the south of France, Picasso collected shells, bones, stones or sea glass to decorate them with a knife or with brushes, depending on the shape of each object inspired him, with animals, minotaurs or figures of women , which Maar kept “as talismans.” Picasso told Brassaï, whom he asked to photograph all those creations.

“Maybe I should throw them back into the sea. How would people be surprised if they found those stones engraved with strange symbols? They would be real puzzles for archaeologists.” But he did not release them, and many of these miniature works of art now appear in the display cases of the museum that bears his name.

The mezzo-soprano Claudia Schneider, singing in a nod to Tintin’s album, ‘Las jewels de la Castafiore’, during the presentation to the press of the exhibition ‘Picasso and the artist’s jewels’, this Thursday at the Museu Picasso.

Picasso also walked along the French beach with Françoise Gilot. In Golfe-Juan, in 1948, Robert Capa photographed them , she wearing an iconic necklace of several stones rescued from the sea, the central one, with an engraved owl, and which is one of the stars of the show. The intimate anecdote is not lacking: it evokes the wounded owl that both had cared for at home .

‘Owl Necklace’, given by Picasso to Gilot and immortalized by Capa in 1948 on her neck, with the artist holding an umbrella, on the French beach of Golfe-Juan.

Proof that jewels were also a form of experimentation with techniques and materials for the people of Malaga, is his discovery of ceramics , with Gilot, in 1949, in Vallauris, in the Madoura workshop , run by the Ramié couple, from whose kiln they would come out. Terracotta stamped pieces with mythological motifs, centaurs, fauns, bulls or horses.

Like the 16 clay medallions that appear in a display case next to the wicker basket in which Picasso himself gave them, padded in straw, as if they were Easter eggs , to his last wife, Jacqueline. The only jewelry with precious metals, gold and silver, that the painter made were with the help of his dentist Roger Chatagner .

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