8.11.2019 - 15.3.2020
Paul Eluard was Picasso’s best friend from 1935 onwards. Following the disappearance of Apollinaire, Eluard was the only poet with who Picasso could converse and exchange or share ideas. Quickly, the surrealist poet became literally captivated by the demiurge-artist, “who insists of seeing everything, on projecting onto the screen of man everything he can understand, admit or transform, figure and transfigure... With Picasso, the walls come down”. Only Eluard’s death, on 18 November 1952, would put an end to this brotherhood.

Pablo Picasso
Paul Eluard
1936. Musée d’art et d’histoire – Saint-Denis. Cliché : Irène Andréani © Successió Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2019


  • Henriette Theodora Markovitch (Tours, 22nd November 1907—Paris, 16th July 1997), known as Dora Maar, was a surrealist photographer, ideologically close to the far left. She met Picasso in 1936, through the mediation of Paul Eluard, and would soon become his companion and model, and influence in the politicization of the artist.  At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Eluard, Maar and Picasso took the side of the legitimate government and republican cause. Moved by the bombings of Franco's army over Madrid, Eluard wrote his first manifestly political poem, «November 1936», which would be published in L’Humanité on 17th December of the same year.  The text inspired Picasso to produce the prints of the Dream and Lie of Franco, in January 1937.  In 1938, «November 1936» would be published once again in the form of a book entitled Solidarité, accompanied by etchings by various artists.

    Pablo Picasso
    Portrait of Dora Maar
    Paris, 1937. Oil on canvas, 92 x 65 cm (without frame). MP158 © Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2019

  • Eluard met Nusch (Maria Benz, 1906—1946) in Paris, in 1930, after separating from Gala, and they got married in 1934. Accomplice and muse of the poet, Nusch inspired various anthologies of poems.  She also posed for surrealist photographers such as Man Ray, Lee Miller and Dora Maar. Nusch became a topic of aesthetic research and the protagonist of many portraits by Picasso, above all between 1936 and 1941. In those years, the friendship and reciprocal admiration and emulation between Picasso and Eluard led them to share their holidays together for three summers in a row in the hotel Vaste Horizon de Mougins, along with other friends.  There, Picasso produced various portraits of Nusch, of Maar and of Eluard’s daughter, Cécile, as well as a cryptic portrait of Paul Eluard dressed up as Arlésienne, known as Arlesiana amamantando un gato.

    Pablo Picasso
    Portrait of Nusch
    1937. Oil on canvas. 55 x 46 cm. Staatlichen Mussen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Museum Berggruen. NG MB 54/2000 © Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2019

    Dora Maar
    Portrait of Nusch Eluard
    Paris, 1935. Photograph in the rooms of silver. 23.8 x 17 cm. APPH1457. Musée national Picasso-Paris

  • The outbreak of the war would separate Eluard, mobilized, from Picasso, who would alternate his residence in Paris with stays in Royan. They would see each other again in the French capital at the end of August 1940. During this period they would frequently meet up with other friends, such as Michel and Louise Leiris, Apel·les Fenosa, Óscar Domínguez and Robert Desnos, in the restaurant Le Catalan, situated in front of Picasso’s studio in the rue des Grands-Augustins.

    In 1942, Eluard joined the French Communist Party once again and had to go underground, which meant that he frequently had to be absent from Paris. However, he and Picasso remained in touch and met up in Picasso’s studio, in Le Catalan, or in the home of Christian and Ivonne Zervos.

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    The uneasiness caused by the war and the economic precariousness inspired Picasso to produce a series of works of stark expressionism that became an allegorical chronicle of his harsh living conditions. Both concerns were also at the origin of his first play, Le désir attrapé par la queue.

    Both Eluard and Picasso collaborated in La main à plume, a collective publication which was started up during the German occupation of France in which many surrealist artists took part.  Eluard wrote the poem «Liberté», which would become a fighting song, and song of hope, for the French resistance.

    Pablo Picasso
    Portrait of Paul Eluard (nº7)
    1941. Black pencil on paper. 26.9 x 20.9 cm (without). Saint-Denis - musée d´art et d´histoire Paul Eluard. 66.05.02 © Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2019

    Eluard, Paul
    Liberté (dedication Madame Jeanne Boitel), 14 x 11.5 cm. Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Centre of Knowledge and Research

  • On 4th October 1944, after the liberation of Paris, Picasso joined the French Communist Party, in an event attended by Paul Eluard and Louis Aragon. On the next day, his joining was announced in L’Humanité, in a report illustrated with three photographs, a drawing of The man of the lamb, and a text by Eluard.

    Picasso and Eluard collaborated with the movements and congresses for peace and the elaboration of the book Le Visage de la paix. The doves of Picasso were used for the congress posters and became a symbol for peace.  In 1948, both of them attended the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Wroclaw (Breslau, Poland), where Picasso gave a brief speech.  During this trip they visited Auschwitz.

    Pablo Picasso
    Massacre in Korea
    Valauri, 18th January 1951. Oil on canvas. 110 x 210 cm. MP203 © Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2019

  • Eluard died on 18th November 1952 from a heart attack.  Picasso, accompanied by friends and comrades from the Communist Party, watched over the body of the poet and drew a dove, with the inscription «pour mon cher Paul Eluard».

    On November 22 he was buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery, in division 97, inside the area for communists and far away from Nusch. When the government opposed the national funeral and the passing of the funeral procession through the streets of Paris, a multitude of friends, comrades and anonymous people gathered at the cemetery doors to pay their last tribute to the author of «Liberté». The funeral speeches were given by Vercors (Jean Bruller), Louis Aragon, Laurent Casanova, André Delacour and Jean-Charles Gateau.

    Picasso, visibly moved, attended the funeral accompanied by Cécile Eluard and Elsa Triolet, to pay his last respects to his great friend.

    Burial of Paul Eluard
    Museum of Art and History Paul Eluard - Saint-Denis.

    Cliché : Irène Andréani


'This line is the present', by Emily Mast

Collaboration with the Fundació Joan Brossa.

Friday 8th November 2019, at 8.00 pm

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Continual reading of the poem "Liberté!" by Paul Eluard.

Saturday 16th November, from 12 noon to midnight

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Family workshop: “There are too many words!”

Family workshop

Saturday 30 November and 21, 28 December. Saturdays 4, 25 January and 15, 29 February 2020

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Symposium: Au rendez-vous des poètes a Catalunya

Thursday 28th November 2019

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Poetry reading: Love and Freedom

With Biel Mesquida, Enric Cassasses, Vicenç Altaió, Dolors Miquel, David Caño and Blanca Llum Vidal.

Thursday 23rd January 2020

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The restoration of "Guernica"

Talk given by Pilar Sedano, emeritus chief conservator of the department of Conservation and Restoration of the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia.

Thursday, 6th February 2020

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  • Pablo Picasso, Paul Eluard. A sublime friendship

    Pablo Picasso, who maintained an unwavering friendship with Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) and Paul Eluard (1895-1952), never managed to overcome the premature death of those two great poets.

    In 1935, Eluard would become part of the most intimate circle of Picasso. During a long, exalted and stormy period, in which the Spanish Civil War, the Occupation, the Liberation and the affiliation to the Communist Party were linked together, the two friends would form a true duo, who seemed to want to share not only points of view, but also behaviours. The poet and the artist coincided in the field of art and creation, as well as in the same political orientation.

    Eluard and Picasso got to know each other and experienced the intense interrelation between painting and poetry, creation and the world, history and society. And they managed to preserve "the hard need to last" of their sublime friendship.

  • Authors: Philippe Blanc, Nicole Boulestreau, Sylvie Gonzalez, Malén Gual, Stépahen Guégan, Emmanuel Guigon, Guillaume Ingert, Brigitte Léal, Manon Lecaplain Johan Popelard, Juliette Pozzo and Georges Sebbag.
    Year: 2019
    Pages: 232 p.
    Languages: Spanish, Catalan and French
    Format: 21 x 27,5 cm
    Publisher: Fundació Museu Picasso de Barcelona
    Price: €39

  • ISBN
    Spanish 978-84-120462-5-0
    Catalan 978-84-120462-6-7
    French 978-84-120462-7-4

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