This past April marked the 50th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s passing at the age of 91. To honor his lasting impact on art, museums and other institutions around the world hosted more than 50 exhibitions (including the Guggenheim’s “Young Picasso in Paris”) and events that showcased not only his paintings, drawings, sculpture and ceramics but also his legacy.
A handful of shows, like the Brooklyn Museum’s “It’s Pablo-matic: Picasso According to Hannah Gadsby,” were outspokenly critical of the artist but most focused on the art, communicating by omission that it is incumbent upon the viewer to assess the totality of that legacy—for better or for worse.
The man was certainly a misogynist with a “wanton disregard for the women he painted and slept with,” as critic Eliza Goodpasture put it. The artist was certainly a genius and in no danger of being canceled, despite what literally hundreds of headlines suggest. Indeed, we’re only just now approaching the end of twelve months of planned exhibitions across the globe that will culminate in early December in a grand symposium in Paris organized by the Musée National Picasso-Paris in partnership with UNESCO featuring two days of encounters, lectures, round-table discussions and other events led by curators, researchers and artists.
This year-long Picasso fervor, with its celebratory flavor, reinforces the idea that the vast majority of people are highly capable of separating art from artist, as do the recent auction results in Sotheby’s Emily Fisher Landau Collection sale—Femme à la montre sold for a record-breaking $139.4 million. Perhaps surprising in an age in which there are entire museums devoted to female artists (including the Femmes Artistes du Musée de Mougins) and lists of the most influential people in the art world include many powerful women?
Or not. Brilliance doesn’t preclude assholery, and the institutions hosting Picasso exhibitions, this year or at any other time, are under no obligation to offer up both in equal measure. The best among them offer context—analyses of the life that shaped the art. Others let the art do the talking. Only a tiny handful prop up talent as a virtue in and of itself.
If you missed the bulk of “Picasso Celebration 1973-2023,” which was co-organized by the governments of Spain and France and kicked off with a collaboration between the Musée Picasso in Paris and designer Paul Smith, don’t worry—there are still shows running. At the Picasso-focused institutions, there’s “L’écho de Picasso” at Museo Picasso, Málaga (through March 24, 2024), Sophie Calle’s “À toi de faire, ma Mignonne” at Musée National Picasso-Paris (through January 28, 2024) and “Miró–Picasso” at Museu Picasso Barcelona and Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (through February 25, 2024). Then there are several more exhibitions in the United States and Europe.
Where to see Picasso anniversary exhibitions in the U.S.
“Picasso: A Cubist Commission in Brooklyn” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The exhibition explores the artist’s foray into decorative painting formats for a commission for the Brooklyn home of artist, critic and art collector Hamilton Easter Field. While the commission was never realized, Picasso created several compositions in preparation for the planned mural and these are on display along with related works. Through January 14, 2024.
“Picasso in Fontainebleau” at the Museum of Modern Art
The show explores Picasso’s 1921 Fontainebleau output, which was startlingly different from what he’d previously produced and left the art world divided on the worth of his artistic progression for several years. “Picasso in Fontainebleau” reunites Three Women at the Spring and Three Musicians to display them with other paintings, drawings, pastels and etchings made during the artist’s three-month stay in the region. Through February 17, 2024.
“Picasso: 14 Sketchbooks” at Pace Gallery, West 25th Street
To commemorate the anniversary of Picasso’s passing, the gallery (in partnership with the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, Madrid) put together an exhibition of 14 sketchbooks the artist filled between 1900 and 1959, which are shown alongside ceramics, paintings, photographs and archival materials. The works on view represent output from almost every period of his career and provide insight into his processes and artistic evolution. Through December 23.
“Picasso and the Spanish Classics“ at the Hispanic Society Museum
This small exhibition looks at the ways the artist responded to the classics of Spanish literature with rarely-seen Picasso works, seventeenth-century manuscripts and the recently acquired Góngora’s Vingt poëmes (1948, featuring aquatints, drypoints and engravings). A particular focus of the exhibition is his images of Luis de Góngora y Argote and Miguel de Cervantes, including his reinterpretation of Velázquez’s portrait of the poet and his now-iconic Don Quixote images. Through February 4, 2024.
“Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds” at the Mississippi Museum of Art
This traveling exhibition is the first solo show of Picasso’s work in the state of Mississippi and the first-ever show focusing exclusively on the artist’s landscapes. In partnership with the American Federation of Arts (AFA) and with support from the Musée National Picasso-Paris, the Mississippi Museum of Art is hosting twenty-seven of the artist’s landscape paintings from his time in art school through the year before his death, showcasing his creative evolution and his unique approach to a classic genre. The works on view will be contextualized with film clips and photographs. Through March 3, 2024.
Where to see Picasso anniversary exhibitions in Europe
“Picasso 1906: The Turning Point” at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid
The Museo Reina Sofia examines one pivotal year in Picasso’s life through a modern lens in this exhibition primarily of drawings and sketches displayed in the famed Madrid gallery. Considered to be the end of his Rose Period, 1906 was an optimistic and transformative year for the artist—not to mention one that would shape Contemporary Art moving forward. Through March 4, 2024.
“Picasso: Untitled” at La Casa Encendida in Madrid
Fifty works from Picasso’s latter years (1963-1973) are on view in an exhibition that invited fifty contemporary artists to rename and update the descriptions of select works, interrogating and transforming them in the process. Spanish and international artists, including Roméo Mivekannin, Ryan Gander, Sara Ramo, Simon Denny, Simon Fujiwara and scent artist Sissel Tolaas, “collectively create a composite portrait of our current perceptions of Picasso’s legacy and influence.” Through January 7, 2024.
“Picasso: The Sacred and the Profane” at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid
Curated by Paloma Alarcó, this exhibition of 38 works (22 by Picasso) closes out the museum’s lineup of “Picasso Celebration 1973-2023” events. It explores the artist’s approach to depicting the classical world and the themes of the Judeo-Christian tradition to reveal insights about Picasso’s artistic intentions and, more broadly, his beliefs about life, death, sex and spirituality. Through January 14, 2024.
“Gertrude Stein and Picasso.The Invention of Language” at the Musée du Luxembourg
Stein, a collector of modern art and the owner of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, was not only an admirer of Picasso but also a friend. This show presents the artist’s works in a dialogue with Stein’s poems and also looks at the writer’s links to Henri Matisse and Jean Cocteau and Picasso’s influence on artists like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Through January 21, 2024.
“Picasso. Endlessly drawing” at the Centre Pompidou
In this exhibition, the Centre Pompidou (in collaboration with the Musée National Picasso-Paris) examines Picasso’s legacy in nearly a thousand recognized and unpublished drawings and prints. From Picasso’s youthful studies to drawings and sketches he made close to the year of his death, visitors can take a non-chronological journey through his creative process that in some ways feels like a behind-the-scenes look at his life. Through January 15, 2024.
“Picasso Sculptor: Matter and Body” at the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao
This show looks exclusively at Picasso’s sculptural works, which were often experimental and represent some of his most formative output. He worked in everything from plaster and wood to cement and steel to found objects, but he tended to focus on recreating the human form. “He sees everything as a sculptor,” sculptor Julio González once said—something the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao confirms. Through January 14, 2024.
“Pablo Picasso | Max Beckmann” at the Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal
Picasso and Beckmann each helped redefine what representational art could be, and the Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal (the first museum in the world to acquire a painting by Picasso) and the Sprengel Museum in Hannover have come together to host an exhibition that compares their artistic viewpoints, the focus of their work and how they innovated in the context of their social environments. Through January 7, 2024.