Over the summer, the Musée National Pablo Picasso, La Guerre et la Paix
is showcasing an exceptional collection of works on loan from the Musée National Picasso - Paris, featuring five three-dimensional ceramic and bronze pieces connected to the murals painted by Picasso for the chapel.
The chapel in Vallauris is one of the most significant museums dedicated to Picasso and his legacy. In 1959, the artist donated his War and Peace masterpiece to the French state. The Musée National Picasso-Paris reopened in the autumn of 2014 after several years of renovation, and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. For the occasion, it was deemed essential to bring these two institutions dedicated to Picasso's work closer together. In addition, it seemed particularly pertinent to give pride of place to the artist's work in Vallauris, where he lived from 1948 to 1954 and where he created one of his masterpieces for the castle's chapel, War and Peace.
In the wake of the Second World War, Picasso moved to the Mediterranean coast, transforming the rooms of the castle in Antibes into his private studio for a few months in 1946. The paintings and drawings produced during that time are now the crown jewels of the Picasso museum in Antibes' collection, exuding a new sense of serenity expressed through various mythological and Mediterranean themes. In the spring of 1948, Picasso moved to Vallauris, a town renowned for its pottery. He took up residence in the La Galloise villa, and a year later rented a studio in a former fragrance factory in Le Fournas.
His Vallauris period (1948-1954) was a time of intensive productivity that resulted in a series of drawings and engravings, and especially allowed him to develop his ceramic and sculptural work. In 1946, Picasso visited the Madoura studio in Vallauris for the first time, where he met Suzanne and Georges Ramié. He threw himself heart and soul into his ceramic work. Drawing on the most traditional forms of utilitarian pottery, he created astonishing combinations of colour and texture and transformed or metamorphosed recipients and other objects into animals, birds and human figures. Picasso was deeply attached to the town and people of Vallauris. He celebrated his 70th birthday with a huge public party held in the castle's chapel. He also gave the town a gift of a bronze copy of Man with a Lamb, which was first placed in the chapel before being moved to the market square. Vallauris also allowed him to fulfil one of his greatest ambitions: to decorate the chapel, sharing a pacifist, humanist message with the general public in the aftermath of the war. He worked on the piece from 1952 to 1954, and War and Peace can be found in the Vallauris national museum, in the castle's deconsecrated chapel.
The With Picasso in Vallauris exhibition invites visitors to discover and rediscover Picasso's work in Vallauris. On loan from the Musée National Picasso-Paris, five works from this period serve as a threedimensional echo of the collections housed in the nearby La Guerre et La Paix museum. The pieces are an ode to a sense of renewed joie de vivre. Drawing on his experience as a father to the two children he had with his partner, Françoise Gilot, Picasso paid tribute to the theme of maternity. Initially very abstract, as exemplified by the bronze statue of the small Pregnant Woman (1948), a more naturalist take on maternity is then depicted in an assemblage sculpture. Picasso used three baked clay vases to represent the breasts and stomach of a female figure. The artist then reworked this piece to create Pregnant Woman, first shaped in the winter of 1950 and cast in bronze in 1959. These two sculptures are evocative of the figures painted by the artist in Peace, particularly the painting of a woman breastfeeding her child. Two ceramic doves (1953) and a bronze pigeon are showcased in the exhibition in a continuation of the dialogue between three-dimensional and painted works. The dove, a symbolic bird painted by Picasso for the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace, features on the shield of the naked warrior in War. The exhibition highlights the rich, fertile interaction between painting and sculpture in Picasso's work in the intimate, contemplative space that so appealed to the artist.