Uzbek museum unearths forgotten Picasso ceramics


Published — Tuesday 6 November 2012

Last update 7 November 2012 10:46 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

TASHKENT: Workers at a state art museum in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan have discovered a long-forgotten collection of Picasso ceramics in the archives and put them on display, more than four decades after the pieces were donated.
The collection includes decorative and dessert plates and several jugs featuring favorite Picasso motifs including a dove, a woman’s face and a bull’s head. Art expert Gulchehra Akhunova, who helped put the exhibition together, said researchers found the works by chance. “We were looking for Russian porcelain items in the archives to fill up the museum’s Russian avant-garde department last year. Then suddenly we came across the ceramic works by Picasso,” she told AFP.
Pablo Picasso branched out into ceramics in the 1940s and went on to create hundreds of works at a French pottery called Madoura. In June, Christie’s auction house sold a collection of his ceramics and other items from the workshop for $12.6 million (9.8 million euros).
His ceramics ended up in Uzbekistan after being donated to the Soviet Union by the widow of a friend of Picasso’s.
The 12 ceramic works were sent to the Tashkent museum after being donated on behalf of the French Communist party around four decades ago, the museum’s chief curator, Mirfayz Usmonov, told AFP.
Museum documents name the ceramics as “a donation from Nadia Leger of France, on behalf of the Institut Maurice Thorez of the French Communist Party.”
“The first seven items were received in 1968, then in 1971 the museum received four more ceramic dessert plates from the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow,” Usmonov said. The museum has not yet accounted for how the final item in the collection arrived in Uzbekistan, he added. “We have to dig out archive documents to find out the origin of the one other Picasso masterpiece we have got here.”
Nadia Leger was the Russian-born widow of the French painter Fernand Leger, a close friend of Picasso.
Both Picasso and Leger had felt sympathy towards Soviet socialism and were friends of the longtime French Communist party leader Thorez, who spent many of his years in the Soviet Union. All items were made in the Madoura pottery workshop in southeastern France, according to their documents.
The museum staff and experts said the Picasso collection had been put on display at some point before falling into obscurity in the archives.
“While preparing the exhibition, I found archive documents that said the Picasso collection was displayed alongside other ceramic and porcelain works in the past. But I don’t remember the exact years,” art expert Akhunova said.
Picasso’s works remained on the museum’s records but were neglected because they came from the West, said Dinara Turaeva, a young art expert at the museum.

“I heard that there just was not much interest in Western art when Picasso works were first displayed many years ago,” she said.
State-owned museums throughout the ex-Soviet Union went through a period of turmoil after the end of the Soviet era, when many struggled to survive, let alone properly catalogue their archives.
The exhibition runs to January 10, 2013.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: A number of prominent Saudi women have cited several reasons for not running as candidates in the upcoming municipal elections. Some of them are an alleged lack of clarity on nominations and voting; they are too busy; and they want to make wa...
ALKHOBAR: A short circuit involving a transformer in the basement of the residential complex of Saudi Aramco resulted in the fire on Sunday, according to a preliminary probe.The blaze continued for over five hours in the residential towers. The fire...
JEDDAH: At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Mohammed bin Naif briefed the Cabinet on the talks held by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen,...
JEDDAH: Private schools have been devising new ways to raise money from parents to circumvent the Education Ministry’s cap on fee increases, a local publication reported here recently.Schools now charge for services that do not require the ministry’s...
JEDDAH: Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee Prince Mohammed bin Naif has approved the general plan for implementation of Civil Defense works in emergency cases during the current Haj...
RIYADH: The government has shut down a cosmetics factory in Riyadh for using undisclosed raw materials and unhygienic process at its production facility.A team from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, during a routine inspection, found the plant u...

Stay Connected