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Picasso: Peace and Freedom

Ananya Jahanara Kabir
All three venues which hosted the exhibition, used their education departments to engage with local schools and young people.

Award Information

AHRC ref: AH/F018576/1
Discipline: Visual Arts
Funding opportunity: Research Grant
Areas of Impact: Culture and Heritage; Museums and collections; Supporting education; Tourism
Lead RO: Norwich University of the Arts
Region: East of England

Pablo Picasso was one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century, but the political influences on his work remained largely unstudied. ‘Picasso: Peace and Freedom’ was an AHRC funded project which investigated the impact of Picasso's politics on his paintings, drawings and sculptures.

Led by Professor Lynda Morris from Norwich University of the Arts, the project produced a major international exhibition which revealed a new and distinctive perspective on Picasso as the political activist and campaigner for peace.

The exhibition brought together a wide range of paintings, drawings and other materials from across the world. Loans were secured for 50 oil paintings, 10 sculptures, 70 drawings and prints and 150 archival documents, photographs and posters, including two telegraphs from Fidel Castro.

Initially based at the Tate Liverpool, the exhibition drew in over 95,000 people, including around 7,500 international visitors, and 71,300 who would not otherwise have visited Liverpool. It generated £1 million in ticket revenue, sold over 4,000 catalogues and, in total, attracted £5 million direct spending to the local economy.

The exhibition then went on to the Albertina Gallery and Palace in Vienna, Austria, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, where it drew in 365,000 and 252,000 visitors respectively. 

Internationally, a German language catalogue of the exhibition was produced, and Professor Morris gave a keynote speech about the exhibition for the ‘Picasso in Palestine Project’ in Ramallah and in Jerusalem in June 2011. The speech was recorded as part of that project and was used as the introduction to the Picasso in Palestine book.

Picasso: Peace and Freedom also received worldwide media coverage including features in The Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The New York Review of Books and The Independent on Sunday amongst many others. TV and radio coverage included BBC Northwest Tonight and ITV's Granada Tonight broadcasting live from the exhibition and a documentary on Sky Arts. Professor Morris, the Project Lead, appeared on Radio 3’s Night Waves and reviews appeared on BBC 2's The Art Show and Radio 4’s Front Row and Today programmes.

Returning to the local level, all three venues which hosted the exhibition, used their education departments to engage with local schools and young people. In Liverpool children from six local primary schools looked at themes of peace and freedom in the visual arts before taking part in practical workshops making doves. The project also produced an education pack which was downloaded over 10,000 times from the Tate website.

Altogether, Picasso: Peace and Freedom reached well over 700,000 people across three countries (and beyond), introducing them to a whole new perspective on Picasso’s work. It impacted culturally and economically on the areas it visited and has had a lasting impact on our understanding of an important artist of the twentieth century.

For more information on the project visit: ‘Picasso: Peace and Freedom’ exhibition at the Tate.

Gateway to Research Project Link: Picasso: Peace or Freedom Major Exhibition Tate Liverpool 2010. Preliminary international conference 2008. Publication themes Cold War USSR, Oct 08 - Mar 11.