50 years since Pablo Picasso’s death, a new three-part series from Minnow Films for the BBC will explore the life and work of a man who was as much monster as genius.

The series, directed by Alice Perman, looks at his legacy: the suicides and betrayals alongside the stunning artworks that he left behind.

Picasso: The Beauty and The Beast opens the door on the paintings, places, and people that he left behind, with rare testimony from his daughter Paloma and grand-children Diana, Bernard, and Olivier, alongside interviews with his friends and recordings from his many lovers.

The three-part series features rare personal archive, behind-the-scenes access to the museums that bear his name, and contributions from art historians and curators who have made Picasso their life work, including Frances Morris, former Director of Tate Modern; Anne Umland, Senior Curator at MoMA; Jean Louis Andral, Director of the Picasso Museum Antibes; Michael Cary, Curator, Gagosian galleries; and British art critic Louisa Buck.

When Pablo Picasso died in 1973, the world mourned a superstar – a revolutionary creative powerhouse who repeatedly turned 20th century art on its head. But since then, the stories of his cruelty, womanising, coercive behaviour and cultural appropriation have made us call into question our reverence of the great master. Picasso lived through two world wars and documented a century of war, despair, peace and hope – shapeshifting through periods of Blue to Rose, Cubism, neo-Classicism and into the avant-garde. He created many of the greatest artworks of the 20th century: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Weeping Woman and Guernica. In a career that spanned eight decades he created some 150,000 pieces – enough to fill an aircraft hangar. His art could be brutal, depicting violence and lust, but he also captured beauty and innocence like no-one else. And his personal life was equally full of contradictions.

Suzy Klein, Head of Arts and Classical Music TV, says: “Picasso was a secretive genius – a man who didn’t talk about his inner life but instead poured it out onto the canvas – changing his artistic styles as often as he changed wives and girlfriends. When he died, he was lionised, but it’s only now, 50 years after his death, that we have the critical distance to unpick those deep connections between Picasso’s life and his art, and to give an unflinching look at the horror and brilliance of what he left behind.”

Sophie Leonard, Executive Producer Minnow Films, says: “It was an extraordinary honour to take such a deep dive into the life and work one of the most mind-blowing creative talents of all time. Picasso’s work thrills, confuses, and astounds the audience, as much as his personal life did. We can’t and won’t shy away from the problematic elements of Picasso, but what cannot be questioned is the unrivalled influence that the man and his work has had on us.”

Artists Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel and Jenny Saville also share their insights and perspectives, alongside authors Siri Hustvedt and Colm Toibín, psychotherapist and author, Phillipa Perry and V&A East Director, Gus Caley-Hayford.

Picasso: The Beauty and The Beast is a Minnow Films production, Produced and Directed by John O’Rourke; the Series Director is Alice Perman and Executive Producers Sophie Leonard, Alicia Kerr and Greg Sanderson. The series was commissioned for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer by Mark Bell.

To accompany the series, BBC Four will broadcasting a series of classic BBC art documentaries from the Archive celebrating other art mavericks of the 20th century, including: Art On The BBC: The Great Salvador Dali; Andy Warhol’s America; Maggi Hambling: Making Love With The Paint; David Hockney: The Art Of Seeing; Becoming Matisse; Georgia O’Keefe: By Myself; Keith Haring: Street Art Boy and Leonora Carrington: The Lost Surrealist.


Pippa Considine

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: Televisual.com is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.