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2023 marks 50 years since the death of one of the world’s most renowned artists, Pablo Picasso. Despite spending the majority of his adult life in France, the artist was deeply influenced by his Spanish roots and he and his work are a great source of pride for many Spaniards. His art is displayed in galleries across Spain (as well as internationally) and there are several museums dedicated to Picasso’s life and work.
To celebrate the 50-year anniversary and his extraordinary legacy, locations across the country which were pivotal throughout Picasso’s early life will be hosting events and exhibitions throughout 2023 and we’re here to tell you what to look out for when travelling to Spain next year.
Picasso was born in Málaga in the late 19th century and from a young age his artistic endeavours were encouraged by his father, a professor of art and painter himself, and his mother who eagerly preserved all of the young artist’s first drawings and passed down her now-famous family name ‘Picasso’. The former family home now houses the Birthplace Museum (known as ‘Casa Natal’) operated by Fundación Picasso, a small museum and artistic organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Picasso’s work. The foundation works in conjunction with the larger Museo Picasso Málaga situated in the 16th century Buenavista Palace and has a collection of over 250 Picasso works, many of which were donated by Picasso’s family and descendants.
At the age of 10 Picasso and his family moved to A Coruña where the artist spent his formative pre-teen years and hosted his very first art exhibition at the age of just 13. The Casa Museo Picasso is nestled away in the family’s former home and has replicated much of the original décor as well as displaying some of the artist’s early drawings and reproductions of his father’s work.
Following the tragic death of Picasso’s younger sister Conchita, the family relocated to Barcelona where his father began teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts and convinced the academy to accept his 13 year old son. Picasso famously completed the academy’s entrance exams in record time and, whilst he may not have been the most enthusiastic student, Picasso forged long-lasting friendships during his time at the academy and created a great many sketches and works. The Museu Picasso, burrowed in the La Ribera neighbourhood of Barcelona, was opened in 1963 with great input from Picasso himself. It was the first Picasso museum to open, and the only one opened during the artist’s lifetime, housing 4251 of his works.
At the age of 16 Picasso moved to Madrid, at the behest of his father and uncle, to attend the San Fernando Royal Acadey of Fine Arts, the finest art school in the country. Again Picasso showed a dislike for formal education, but the city inspired him in many other ways and he continued to work on his sketching and paintings privately. Madrid is famously considered the art capital of Spain and its ‘Golden Triangle’ of art museums, the Museo Nacional del Prado, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum house some of the greatest collections of Spanish and European art. The Museo Reina Sofía is home to one of his most famous works ‘Guernica’.
After moving to France Picasso spent little time in his home country and after the civil war he never returned (citing his dislike of Francisco Franco’s regime), but Spain was never far from his heart and he was deeply aware of the internal conflicts affecting the country in the early 20th century. Following the tragic bombardment of the Basque town of Guernica, Picasso was inspired to create his painting of the same name as a tribute to the lost lives and criticism of Franco’s collusion with other rising fascist regimes in Europe. The giant monochrome painting shows the horrors of the bombing via surrealist and cubist imagery and is considered to be the most moving and powerful anti-war painting in history by many art critics. Picasso’s efforts to highlight this event were lauded my many Basques and a number of his works are displayed in Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.
To celebrate Picasso’s astounding contribution to the art world and the 50th anniversary of his death, museums across Spain will be hosting events and exhibitions in the cities that played such a formative role in his upbringing and his artistic pursuits.
Below are dates to keep in mind if you would like to take part in this celebration and recommendations of where to stay when visiting these wonderful locations.
More information on the exhibitions can be found via the Official Spanish Tourist Office website here.
Picasso’s birthplace is eager to celebrate one if its most high-profile natives.
Exhibitions in 2023:
Picasso: Matter and Body (8 August to 10 September 2023) – Picasso Museum
The echo of Picasso (2 October – 24 March 2023) – Picasso Museum
The ages of Pablo (21 June 2023– 1 January 2024) – Picasso Birthplace Museum
Where to stay:
Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro: in the heart of the city alongside the Gibralfaro tower, the Parador enjoys fabulous views of the port.
Parador de Málaga Golf: closer to the airport, this Parador boasts an impressive golf course and beachside location.
Parador de Nerja: a perfect location for those looking for a beachside location just a 50-minute drive from Málaga.
This Galician city where the artist spent some of his formative years is proud to boast of their Picasso connection.
Exhibition in 2023:
Picasso white in blue memory (23 April – 23 June 23) – A Coruña Museum of Fine Arts
Where to stay:
Parador de Ferrol: located in the pretty coastal port of Ferrol, this Parador is 40 minutes away by car.
Parador de Vilalba: housed in a medieval tower and its neighbouring rustic addition, the sleepy town is a destination for those completing ‘The Way of Saint James’.
We also work with a number of hotels in A Coruña itself including NH Collection Finisterre and the Hotel Riazor.
With one of the largest Picasso collections in the world, you can visit Barcelona at anytime to enjoy Picasso’s work, but like other museum in 2023, Museu Picasso is hosting some special exhibitions.
Exhibitions in 2023:
But is it possible that they could have done this before me? Picasso and Spanish ceramics in the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona collections (1 June 2022 – 30 September 2023) – Museu Picasso
Daniel – Henry Kahnweiler (18 November 2022 – 19 March 2023) – Museu Picasso
Miró – Picasso (19 October 2023 – 24 February 24) – Museu Picasso
Where to stay:
Parador de Aiguablava: a stunning coastal location on the Costa Brava, this would be ideal for rounding out an art-themed break with a trip to Figueres to visit the Dalí Museum.
Parador de Cardona: for a unique stay in a medieval castle just 90 minute’s from Barcelona.
Parador de Vic-Sau: combine an arty city break with an escape to the picturesque Catalan countryside.
We also work with a number of city-centre hotels in Barcelona in some of the city’s most interesting and attractive quarters.
Here Picasso studied at the Fine Arts Academy and was inspired by many artists featured in the Prado Museum.
Julio González, Pablo Picasso and the Dematerialisation of sculpture (23 September 2022 – 8 January 2023) – Fundación Mapfre
Picasso, Masterpieces from the Nahmad Collection (4 April – 2 July 2023) – Royal Academy Fine Arts
Picasso / Chanel (11 October 2022 – 15 January 2023) – Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum
The last Picasso. 1963 – 1972 (19 May – 17 September 2023) – La Casa Encendida
Picasso – El Greco (13 June – 17 September 2023) – Prado Museum
Picasso. The sacred and the profane (4 September 2023 – 14 January 2024) – Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum
Picasso vs. Velázquez (September – November 2023) – Casa de Veláquez
Picasso 1906: the great transformation (14 November 2023 – 4 March 2024) – Reina Sofía National Art Centre
Where to stay:
Parador de Alcalá de Henares: this is located in the birthplace of another renowned Spaniard, author Miguel de Cervantes, and only a short train-ride from Madrid.
Parador de Toledo: for those spending time in the historic city, a 60 minute train journey to Madrid takes you to Atocha station, in the heart of the ‘Golden Triangle of Art’ museums.
We also work with a number of hotels in Madrid itself including hotels close to the Art Museums.
The famous Guggenheim Museum is also celebrating Picasso with a special exhibition.
Picasso: Matter and Body (29 September 2023 – 14 January 2024) – Guggenheim Museum
Where to stay:
Parador de Limpias: this 19th century palace is halfway between Bilbao and Santander and surrounded by greenery offering a tranquil stay.
Parador de Argómaniz: this 17th century Renaissance palace enjoys fantastic views of the plains and well-located for exploring vineyards.
Both Paradors are 50-60 minutes’ drive from Bilbao.
We also work with a number of hotels in Bilbao and the surrounding area including Gran Hotel Domine, Vincci Consulado de Bilbao and Silken Indautxu.
We recommend pre-booking tickets where possible as these exhibitiions are likely to be popular.