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Picasso and Dance

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was without a doubt one of the most versatile artists of the 20th century - a painter, draftsman, sculptor and engraver, he never stopped investigating a wide range of techniques, exploring the most diverse fields and forms of expression. In the 1910s, he discovered the world of show business and started working on the creation of sets and costumes that would mark the history of ballet. Parade (1917), The Three-Cornered Hat (1919), Pulcinella (1920) and Mercure (1924) are all major landmark works for this art. Picasso's legacy remains alive in the Ballet repertoire of the Paris Opera, which demonstrates how important a role he played in the choreographic landscape of the time.
However, looking beyond the world of ballet, we can see that Picasso expressed an interest in dance from a young age. From the circus dancers of the 1900s, to the bacchanal scenes of the 1940s to 1960s, to the erotic dances of Picasso’s later work, everything seemed to be a pretext to depicting bodies in movement. The dynamics of the danced movement thus featured in all of the master’s work, sometimes going so far as to in fact fuel his artistic expression.
The exhibition held by the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Paris National Opera explores the different aspects of Picasso's relationship with dance, from company life and creative research, to fine arts and performing arts.

  • I. The Ballets Russes Company

    In March 1915, Jean Cocteau sought to meet Picasso. The young writer, who had been rubbing shoulders with the Ballets Russes since 1909, wanted to make his mark...

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  • II. Working for the Ballet

    Picasso contributed to ten ballet productions, including six for the Ballets Russes. His involvement was sometimes limited to just a stage curtain, or instructions for making one...

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  • III. Depicting Dance

    Beyond the world of ballet, Picasso depicted a large number of scenes of dance. In the 1890s, cabaret dancers began to feature in his work...

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  • IV. From Dance to the Danced Gesture

    A lover of village dances and social events, Picasso danced all his life. In some photographs, he can be seen having fun, attempting a clumsy leg lift in the middle of the street...

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Pratical informations and booking

Picasso and dance

This work reveals the painter’s close relationship with dance from 1899 to 1960: source of inspiration, collaboration with the Ballets Russes with Cocteau, Stravinsky, Massine, the Paris Opera ...

39,00€ | 37,05€ abonnés

Picasso and dance
From June 19 to September 16, 2018
Paris Opera Library-museum, Palais Garnier
Entrance at the corner of rue Scribe and rue Auber, Paris 9th
Every day 10am > 5pm

Ticket prices
Full price: €12 - Reduced rate: €8
Free entry for children under 12, jobseekers.

Bérenger Hainaut, curator at the Music Department, BnF
Inès Piovesan, Head of the Publishing Department, Opéra national de Paris


Picasso and dance
Under the supervision of Bérenger Hainaut and Inès Piovesan BnF Éditions
22 x 27 cm, 192 pages, approx. 100 illustrations, €39
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