Pablo Picasso Large Still Life with Pedestal Table (Grande nature morte au guéridon) 1931 and Isamu Noguchi's Strange Bird (1945/1971) © GrandPalaisRmn (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Adrien Didierjean © Succession Picasso 2024 and © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York; Photo: Kevin Noble; Image courtesy of M+, Hong Kong
A vast exhibition of works by Pablo Picasso will open at the M+ Museum in Hong Kong next year which will present his works alongside pieces by Modern and contemporary Asian artists. Most of the Picasso works in the exhibition, Picasso for Asia: A Conversation (15 March-13 July 2025), will be loaned by the Musée National Picasso in Paris.
Picasso for Asia: A Conversation will include more than 60 works dating from the late 1890s to the early 1970s by Picasso (1881–1973) alongside more than 80 works by Asian and Asian-diasporic artists drawn from the M+ collection. “The exhibition adopts a new, unique perspective to interpret Picasso’s legacy, exploring complex relationships between origin and reception, invention and adaptation, and [the] West and non-West,” a project statement says.
Works by Picasso including The Acrobat (L’Acrobate, 1930) and Figures by the Sea (Figures au bord de la mer, 1931) will be displayed alongside pieces from the M+ collection such as the bronze sculpture Strange Bird (1945/1971) by Isamu Noguchi and a 1980s watercolour by Gu Dexin (Untitled).
Pablo Picasso's Figures by the Sea (Figures au bord de la mer) 1931
© GrandPalaisRmn (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau © Succession Picasso 2024
Speaking at a press conference 27 March, Cécile Debray, the president of the Musée National Picasso, said that her institution tries to renew “ways of looking at Picasso who is a dominant figure in art history and the art market”. Crucially she discussed the artist’s troubling relationships with women (Picasso has been accused of abusing his muses and was 45 when he met Marie-Thérèse Walter who was 17).
“There has been a lot of debate around Picasso’s behaviour towards women. When I was appointed president two years ago, I was expected to [enter into] debate and change the way Picasso has been presented. We have tried to present inventive exhibitions and a [new] way to write about his work [in the art historical canon],” Debray added. “He was also a friend of Communism. [The M+] show is the place where we can show his dialogue with Asia.”
The new partnership was announced during Hong Kong Art Week which has seen a blizzard of events and announcements on the back of the first Hong Kong International Cultural Summit held earlier this week. Before the summit, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, the body behind the eponymous Hong Kong arts hub, signed numerous memoranda of understanding with more than 20 culture institutions worldwide.
Visitors at the Shanghai Museum admire Sassoferrato’s The Virgin in Prayer (1640-50) at the record-breaking exhibition Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London
Sipa US/Alamy Live News
Under the memoranda, key joint exhibitions will be launched. Imperial Threads; motifs and artisans from Turkey, Iran and India, held at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha in 2017, will travel to Hong Kong Palace Museum while an exhibition focused on the architecture of the late Chinese-US architect I.M. Pei (Life is Architecture) is due to open at M+ this June and tour later to the Museum of Islamic Art.
Betty Fung, the chief executive officer of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, says that loan fees will be paid for the Picasso works though the costs of touring shows are offset by different partner venues. For instance, transport costs are being shared between London's National Gallery and the Hong Kong Palace Museum for a show of 52 works currently on view at the Hong Kong institution (Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London, until 11 April). The show has also been to Shanghai and Seoul and is due to open in Taiwan later this year.
UPDATE (2 April): The article was amended to state that most of the Picasso works in the exhibition will be loaned from the Musée National Picasso in Paris.