Impact Case Study 1 Picasso Peace and Freedom: the impact of a curated exhibition on economic development and public discourse of relationships between art and politics

Submitting Institution

Norwich University of the Arts

Unit of Assessment

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Political Science
Language, Communication and Culture: Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

`Picasso Peace and Freedom' was presented at Tate Liverpool, Albertina and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in 2010-11. This major exhibition, curated by Professor Lynda Morris and Dr Christoph Grunenberg, presented a reassessment of the impact of Picasso's politics on his paintings, drawings and sculptures, challenging what has been seen as the artist's lack of engagement with serious politics. 711,905 people visited the three exhibitions, gaining new views of the artist's political engagements with major international developments of the twentieth century and with leaders of countries that remain centres of tension today. As an example of the economic impact of the research, the exhibition brought direct visitor spend of almost £5 million to the city of Liverpool, in which it was initially presented.

Underpinning research

The production of `Picasso Peace and Freedom' was underpinned by curatorial and art historical research, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC Research Grant £207,087 fEC), and conducted by Principal Investigator Lynda Morris (Professor of Art History & Curation, Norwich University of the Arts (NUA)) and co-investigators Dr Christoph Grunenberg (Director, Tate Liverpool) and Dr Krzysztof Fijalkowski (Senior Lecturer Fine Art, NUA). Their research contributed new insights into Picasso's political involvements and their impact on his creative work, new methodological approaches to the interpretation and presentation of key materials, and a reassessment of neglected key texts through translation.

The underlying research had four objectives: to study Picasso's relationships with Communist and Capitalist economic and political systems and their influence on European and North American culture in the period 1944-1973 through primary and secondary documents; to develop an international network of academic and non-academic experts from Europe, Russia and North America to contextualise Picasso's complex political motivations; to establish a curatorial framework for the development of a major exhibition; to produce an international exhibition to bring together key works and primary documents in order to highlight the taboos associated with the understanding of Picasso's involvement with political organisations; to generate and share new insights into the politics of his work; and to organise an international conference to debate key themes arising.

The research largely took place from 2007 to the opening of the first exhibition at Tate Liverpool in 2010, but was also informed by Professor Morris's early publications and exhibitions on the Artists International Association (1980-82) and continuing work in this area. The AHRC grant (awarded in 2008) enabled primary research in the archives at the Picasso Museum in Paris, where the Principal Investigator concentrated on political correspondence sent to Picasso from 1944 when he joined the French Communist Party. This material had not been a priority for previous researchers as it contains little autograph material. Research was also conducted at the newspaper archives of L'Humanité in France. Dr Fijalkowski investigated French translations and Surrealist material relating to this period, including research on Wilfredo Lam and the magazine Minatour. Dr Grunenberg researched material emerging from recent German publications, including essays from art historians in Chemnitz.

The archive material called for a substantial reinterpretation of Picasso's political concerns and the ways in which they affected his practice after 1944, including his work in Africa and Mexico. These themes were expanded through a roundtable meeting and international conference, which also addressed knowledge of Picasso in the USSR and Eastern Europe. The meeting and international conference featured presentations by art historians, scholars, critics, practitioners and family members from the UK, North America, East and West Europe and Russia. Consequent upon recent discussions with Benjamin Buchloh and TJ Clark, `Picasso Peace and Freedom' has called for a re-examination of accounts of Picasso's membership of the Communist Party from 1944 to 1973 during the Cold War. In 2011-12 Professor Morris presented the research in Wrocław at the 1948 celebration of the first Peace Congress, at the Los Angeles County Museum, University College Los Angeles, Berkeley, University of British Columbia Vancouver and at universities in and around New York.

References to the research

1. Morris, Lynda, and Christoph Grunenberg, cur. Picasso Peace and Freedom: Tate Liverpool, 21 May to 30 August 2010; Vienna: Albertina, 22 September 2010 to 16 January 2011; Humlebæk: Lousiana Museum of Modern Art, 11 February to 29 May 2011.

2. Morris, Lynda, and Christoph Grunenberg, eds. Picasso Peace and Freedom. London: Tate Publishing, 2010.

3. Morris, Lynda, and Christoph Grunenberg. eds. Picasso Frieden und Freiheit. Vienna: Dumont, 2011.

4. Morris, Lynda, and Christoph Grunenberg. eds. Picasso Fred og Frihed. Humlebæk: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2011.

5. Harris, Jonathan, and Richard Koeck, eds. Picasso and the Politics of Visual Representation: War and Peace in the Era of the Cold War and Since. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013.

6. Arts and Humanities Research Council, Research Grant (standard route) Final Report 1 October 2008 to 31 March 2011, £207,087.50 fEC

Details of the impact

The curators were successful in bringing together major Picasso loans including 50 oil paintings, 10 sculptures, 70 drawings and prints, 150 archival documents, photographs and posters. Highlights included 'The Charnel House' 1945 (Museum of Modern Art, New York) and the bronze 'Skull' 1943. Loans were negotiated with museums worldwide, the Picasso family, the Paul Éluard collection and the Gérard Gosselin collection. Picasso's politics were reflected in the discovery, curation and display of a broad correspondence with world leaders of countries in North Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, the Caribbean, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The exhibition aimed to demonstrate that Picasso's political paintings are consistent images of the death and destruction not of soldiers, but of civilians, women and children in their homes in cities all over the world. Picasso's lifetime was defined by political violence; the twentieth century began for Picasso with the 1898 Spanish American War against Cuba and ended with the Vietnam War at the time of his death in 1973.

95,424 people visited the exhibition in Liverpool. The visitor analysis included in Tate Liverpool's Exhibition Report, conducted by England's Northwest Research Service (ENWRS), identifies that "74% of visitors to Picasso: Peace & Freedom were from outside the Liverpool city region, including 8% of international visitors (equating to 7,634 international visitors)". The ENWRS evaluation also notes that "Picasso: Peace and Freedom drew at least 71,300 visitors to Liverpool who would not otherwise have visited", and that "visitors to Tate Liverpool during the summer contributed £11.2m into Liverpool city region's economy". 1,512 people attended the exhibition openings, dinners and events, at which the Spanish Ambassador and Sir Nicholas Serota gave formal presentations. 364,365 people visited the exhibition in Vienna. The opening ceremony was held in the Spanish Riding School for over 1,000 seated guests including the Austrian Minister of Education and Culture, and the British and Spanish Ambassadors. 252,116 people visited the exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. Professor Morris spoke at the opening dinner for 200 guests, which included members of the Danish Government, funders of the Louisiana Museum and Scandinavian museum directors. Each of the museums have sophisticated education departments, which organised workshops for primary and secondary schools, further increasing the impact of the research and exhibition by encouraging structured engagement with students. In Liverpool children from local primary schools looked at themes of peace and freedom in the visual arts, followed by practical workshops making doves. Education activities and exhibition tours were organised for young people. In Liverpool the painter David Jacques led painting classes based on Picasso's political murals. Over 10,000 education packs were downloaded from the Tate website.

`Picasso Peace and Freedom' is described as "Tate Liverpool's second most popular exhibition since the Gallery opened in 1988" in the Tate Liverpool Exhibition Report. Tate Liverpool attracted additional investment to support the exhibition from the European Regional Development Fund, the Spanish Embassy Cultural Office, the Spanish and Andalucia Tourist Offices, Fundación Almine Y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso Para El Arte. The Albertina exhibition budget equalled that of Tate Liverpool. The Albertina attracted additional funding from the Dumont Publishing House Köln, Superfund, Signa Holdings, Agrana, Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati and Deloitte. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art attracted additional funding from Bodum.

The exhibition (and its underlying research) aroused interest, discussion and controversy in reviews across the world in newspapers and journals such as the New York Review of Books (25 November 2010) and all the major UK newspapers. A substantial press book from the exhibition is available to view on request to the University. The exhibition was the subject of Alexei Sayle's five-page article in the Sunday Times (16 May 2010), which described his parents' attendance at the postponed 1950 Sheffield Peace Congress at which Picasso spoke. TV and radio coverage included `Night Waves' on BBC Radio 3, `Front Row' and `Today' on Radio 4, and `The Art Show' on BBC2. The project was featured in a case study `Supporting the cultural sector' in the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Annual Report 2010-11 and is one of the UK Research Council's `Productive Economy' case studies.

In June 2011 Professor Morris was supported in presenting the research at the `Picasso in Palestine' exhibition by the Outset contemporary art fund. As there are no formal art museums in Palestine the Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven) lent Picasso's 'Buste de Femme' 1943 to the International Academy of Art Palestine in Ramallah at which the event was based. The former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority addressed the exhibition as a remarkable occasion for the Palestinians. The response to Professor Morris's lecture and the global reporting of the event demonstrate the extent to which Picasso's politics maintain a serious importance forty years after his death.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Factual statement and Tate Liverpool Exhibition Report, Director, Tate Liverpool
    Information on the impact of the research on the development of `Picasso Peace and Freedom'.
  2. Press Book, Albertina Vienna
    Information on the impact of `Picasso Peace and Freedom' for the Albertina.
  3. Factual statement, Curator, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
    Information on the impact of `Picasso Peace and Freedom' for the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
  4. `Picasso in Palestine', A Prior Magazine, 22 (2011), Ghent
    Information on the political and cultural impact of the research in Ramallah.
  5. Tate 2010-11, Annual Report
    Information on the economic and cultural impact of the research in Liverpool.
  6. Factual statement, Cultural Producer and Curator, European Cultural Congress 2012 and VanAbbe Museum Eindhoven
    Information on the impact of the research on the Wrocław Council of Europe 2012 Polish Presidency.
  7. Arts and Humanities Research Council. (2011). Annual Report and Accounts 2010-11 London: The Stationary Office
    Information on the value of the research in supporting the cultural sector.
  8. Research Councils UK `Case Studies: Productive Economy' (accessed 23 November 2013) Information on the value of the research contribution to the productive economy.
  9. Aikens, Nick, `Picasso in Palestine.' Frieze Blog, 6 July 2010.
    Report on the contribution of the research to the `Picasso in Palestine' project.