A major exhibition entitled “Erotic Picasso” was inaugurated on October 25th 2001 at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona but prompted swift criticism from a specialist regarding a known fake work he spotted among those published in the catalogue sold to visitors.
This exhibition, due to last until January 27th 2002, already took place in Paris at the Musée du Jeu de Paume between February 19th and May 20th and at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montreal from June 14th to September 16th of this year. One however wonders why the curators of these museums did not withdraw from the exhibition and its catalogue a known fake, in fact a “fellatio” scene, which Picasso never painted, as the artist firmly denied during the 1960s, said Alain Moreau, a specialist based in Barcelona.
Picasso had told Pierre Daix, when the latter was about to publish a book of his works produced from 1900 to 1906, that he never painted such work. Such denial was thus mentioned by Pierre Daix in his “Picasso Dictionary” (page 236) published in 1995 (Ed. Robert Laffont).
The work in question created some turmoil when it was exhibited in March 1912 in Barcelona by Josep Dalmau, a painter and art dealer who had known Picasso in Paris in 1901.
Titled “Picasso being fellated by a naked woman”, the work was later donated to the Metropolitan Museum in New York by Scofield Thayer, a collector who had bought it in the 1920s, but Picasso stressed several years later that it was not by his hand.
In fact Picasso had produced a drawing and a watercolour depicting his friend Nonell in a similar posture (now in the Museu Picasso in Barcelona) while he certainly knew that the painting had been executed by one of his close friends, a fact that prevented him to make a bigger fuss about its showing at the 1912 exhibition.
His relationship with Dalmau finally came to an end a few moths later when the dealer organised an exhibition of Cubist painters without inviting him nor Georges Braque.
John Richardson, in his book titled “ A Life of Picasso” certainly got it wrong when he referred to that painting in believing that some “vile and repugnant Spaniards” staying in the Hotel du Maroc, where the penniless Picasso spent some time, had supplied him with materials on condition that he should paint erotic works for them.
The controversial painting was withdrawn from the Barcelona exhibition but has remained listed (Number 40, reproduced twice on page 90 and page 181) in the catalogue sold to visitors. Alain Moreau stressed that it was regrettable that no warning was published in that catalogue to inform readers that this work was a fake.
Alain Moreau has promised to reveal next week who was the forger of this painting adding that he will bring an undisputable proof of this deceit.