Picasso in Palestine

On Friday 24th June a special exhibition opens at the International Academy of Art Palestine (IAAP). As an artistic conception of artistic director Khaled Hourani, for the very first time an original painting by Pablo Picasso will be on show in Ramallah. The work Buste de Femme (1943) is one of the most iconic works from the collection of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and has been exhibited throughout the world in the past 50 years. On the basis of a loan request made to the museum by the International Art Academy Palestine (IAAP) in September 2010 and following extensive research, the work will travel to Palestine in June 2011. It will be exhibited in a specially constructed room inside the IAAP from 24 June to 22 July.

Venue: International Academy of Art Palestine
Dates: 24.06.011 – 20.07.2011

The portrait Buste de Femme (1943) by Pablo Picasso was chosen by students of the Academy. The work is one of the most outspoken examples of Picasso’s expressionistic period. A period in which he spoke out in response to the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps through his work we are able to talk about and imagine conditions in relation to cultural rights and struggles in other places and times too. 

Michael Baers: An Oral History of Picasso in Palestine

Link to PDF

In 2010, artist Michael Baers learned of Khaled Hourani’s plan to bring Picasso’s 1943 painting Buste de femme to Ramallah for an exhibition at the International Academy of Art, Palestine. The two­year effort of coordinating the loan from the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and staging the exhibition in 2011 was hindered by the conditions imposed by the Israeli occupation, necessitating intricate negotiations with shippers, insurers, bureaucrats, and politicians.

While the story is already well known, having attracted a great deal of press and recorded in the 2012 documentary Picasso in Palestine by Hourani and filmmaker Rashid Masharawi, Baers’ graphic novel , An Oral History of Picasso in Palestine, suggests that there is more to tell. The result of extensive research, this work retells the story of Picasso in Palestine by exploring the history of the project’s gestation and its relevance to the broad set of issues which comprise Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. While it might appear a digression to discuss how the formal declaration of the State of Israel took place in a museum, Baers notes: “Without the notional link between the State of Israel and artistic modernism, there would be a weaker argument for bringing Picasso to present­day Ramallah.” An Oral History of Picasso in Palestine offers a sophisticated meta­commentary that charts the intersections of modernism, occupation, statehood, and security, using the graphic novel form to demonstrate that narrativization need not entail a reduction of complexity.

A collaboration between the IIAP and the Van Abbemuseum. Co-curated with Remco de Blaaij, Charles Esche, Khaled Hourani, Fatima Abdulkarim.