Pablo Picasso at the Palais Princier de Monaco

The upcoming Pablo Picasso and Antiquity exhibit at the Palace Princier de Monaco explores the artist’s enduring love affair with the classical world.   

The complicated and charged world of Pablo Picasso often used themes from the classical world spun into the modern, and the new Pablo Picasso and Antiquity exhibit at the Palace Princier de Monaco takes a look at pieces that were inspired by the Greeks and Romans of old yet produced by the artist in his post-war period. 


In 1917, Picasso braved the turbulence of World War I and visited a number of archaeological sites in Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Naples, and found the perception of classical art he was fed as a student was far from the reality.   

The pieces he saw were, though full of colour, eroded and often not well looked after. He took what he witnessed in these now run-down urban centres and transformed his thinking about classicism from one of never-ending perfection to one of change marred by time, social upheaval and politics.   

From this point on, Picasso referenced Greco-Roman art in several of his works, incorporating mythological subjects as well as a more abstract homage, with the use of isolated limbs and rough surfaces, such as those he had seen at archaeological sites.   


Pablo Picasso and Antiquity takes an even closer look at the artist’s relationship to classicism, offering “a stage for Picasso’s insights into the survival, legibility and transformability of ancient artifacts in spite of historical disruption and material distress”.   

Ruin and decline butted up against renewal and perseverance are take-away themes from the exhibit, which is filled with pieces created from the post-war period through to the 1950s.   

“It illuminates the radical ways in which the artist reimagined the heritage of the Greco-Roman world through subjects, style and materials as he contradicted the dogmatism and idealism of the academic tradition,” explain the organisers via a press release.   

Pieces for the event, which will be held inside the Prince’s Palace alongside the newly restored 16th century frescoes, are on loan from the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso (FABA), complemented by a single piece coming from the Nahmad Collection. It is being curated by Francesca Ferrari, with the design by Cécile Degos.  

Pablo Picasso and Antiquity is part of the international Picasso Celebration 1973-2023 that marks the 50th anniversary of his death. The show will run from 16th September to 15th October.    


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Photo credit: Pablo Picasso, Homme regardant une femme endormie, Dinard, 1922, FABA, Succession Picasso 2023