Picasso-Chanel Exhibition in Madrid for Fashion and Art Lovers

by Lorraine Williamson
Picasso and Chanel

MADRID – The works of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and fashion designer Chanel enter into a dialogue in a new exhibition ‘Picasso/Chanel’ in Madrid that has been in the works for four years.

The special exhibition can be seen until January 15, 2023 in the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, and was realised with the sponsorship of Telefónica. It is a must for lovers of both art and fashion. For the first time, the works of Pablo Picasso and Gabrielle Chanel enter into an intimate dialogue. This dialogue reveals how friendship united them and influenced their creations. Creations that simultaneously marked the history of fashion and art. 

Related post: Museums in Spain commemorate 50th anniversary of Pablo Picasso 

“Chanel and Picasso had in common that they could destroy to create new cultural canons.” This is what Chanel’s heritage director told El Mundo newspaper. “Both made aesthetics that resonated with society.” Not only because “his creative power” was one that occurs once in a hundred years (…), but because his creations have managed to penetrate and even change visual directions. What would cubism be without Picasso? And what about, for example, the straight lines of the 1920s and the absence of the corset without Chanel? It is impossible to understand these phenomena without the creative input of these two artists. 

“Essential and necessary exhibition” 

“This exhibition is something essential and necessary in our world. Especially now that we live in such difficult times both in Europe and worldwide,” said Bernard Ruiz Picasso, the painter’s grandson, in his speech. “It is our responsibility to show the diversity and what the art of the 20th century consists of. An exhibition of this quality and level is something extraordinary that we can learn a lot from and talk about. Art allows us to enter into dialogue and exchange ideas and to evolve”. 

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“Picasso recreates what Chanel has created” 

The exhibition “shows the influence that Picasso had on Chanel’s fashion creation, but also how, after a certain point, especially after the Olga [Picasso] chapter, the direction of the influence changes: it is Picasso who is involved with the Chanel atmosphere, because every time he looks at Olga and paints, he is confronted with the straight lines of Chanel and recreates what she has created,” said the initiators of the exhibition during the opening. 

The exhibition, organised by the museum in collaboration with the Madrid region and Chanel. It is sponsored by Telefónica, and divided into four parts: 

  • Cubism and the Chanel style, which includes the soberest and straightforward creations of both artists; 
  • Olga Picasso, another great protagonist of the exhibition, as she was a fundamental part of the relationship with Chanel; 
  • Antigone, which focuses on the 1920s and which also gave rise to the first professional project in which Picasso and Chanel collaborated (the scaled-down version of Sophocles’ tragedy by Jean Cocteau). 
  • Finally, The Blue Train, a dance operetta produced by Diághilev, with a libretto by Jean Cocteau, the second and last professional project on which Picasso and Chanel collaborated. 

What Picasso and Chanel said to each other without words

There are sequin-studded evening dresses, gorgeous and well-known ‘little black dresses and jackets that you may not have seen before; all mixed with cubist oil paintings and portraits of Olga. But there are also some lovely sports-inspired outfits and a shirt dress with a tie. This one belongs to the last chapter and seems to come straight out of ‘The Bathers’; a 1918 painting by Picasso of three women on the beach in colourful outfits. 

Until January 15th, visitors to Museo Thyssen Bornemisza can discover for themselves what Picasso and Chanel said to each other without words, to see for themselves how exceptional their talent is and why the two went down in history and why Chanel remains a legend, how much years also pass. Click here for more information.

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