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Thousands of Pablo Picasso’s works in a new online archive

Black and white image of Pablo Picasso posing in front of one of his paintings

Born in 1881 in Spain, Pablo Picasso spent most of his life in Paris, where he helped develop Cubism with French painter Georges Braque.
Bettmann

You don’t have to travel all the way to Paris to see Pablo Picasso’s work: Thousands of the Spanish artist’s pieces are now accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, thanks to a new online archive created by the Picasso Museum.

The museum has digitized thousands of Picasso’s artworks, essays, poems, interviews and other memorabilia, including items that have never been seen by the public before.

Later this year, the museum plans to open a new study center, which will help researchers and artists in residence learn more about the artist’s life and work. In preparation for the center’s launch, staffers began digitizing the museum’s collections last year, starting with around 19,000 photos, reports Radio France Internationale. The museum hopes to eventually digitize and upload an additional 200,000 documents.

The new portal allows users to search for artworks in a number of categories: photographs, audio-visual, paintings, sculptures, 3D objects, drawings, prints, books, archives and documents.

The online archives debuted alongside the museum’s “Picasso: Consuming Images” exhibition, which opened earlier this month. The show explores Picasso’s many sources of inspiration, including works by Rembrandt and Henri Matisse, alongside everyday items like magazines, comic strips and postcards.

“Picasso grew up with a flood of new images and works that he went to see in person in Paris museums,” says art historian Cécile Godefroy, the curator of the new show, to Agence France-Presse.

As such, Picasso’s artworks “derive from a complex amalgam of source images,” says the museum in a statement. The exhibition investigates these influences through the lens of four themes that Picasso returned to throughout his artistic career: the hero, the Minotaur, the voyeur and the musketeer.

“Celebrated by the avant-gardes as the scourge of academicism, Picasso … always maintained that he was the heir to a long pictorial tradition,” the museum continues. “His ambiguous relationship to art history raises the question of his sources and the manner in which he appropriated them.”

Picasso was born in 1881 in Spain but spent most of his life in Paris. He is best known for developing Cubism alongside the French painter Georges Braque. The movement marked a rejection of European conventions, instead focusing on two-dimensionality and abstract images.

“The Cubist painters rejected the inherited concept that art should copy nature, or that artists should adopt the traditional techniques of perspective, modeling and foreshortening,” according to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. “They reduced and fractured objects into geometric forms, and then realigned these within a shallow, relieflike space. They also used multiple or contrasting vantage points.”

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death in 1973. Many institutions—including the Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster in Germany, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museo Picasso in Spain—organized exhibitions around the milestone.

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