Beauty and the Beast on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer this autumn

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Beauty and the Beast on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer this autumn
Beauty and the Beast on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer this autumn

When Pablo Picasso died in 1973, the world mourned a superstar—a revolutionary creative force who repeatedly turned 20th-century art upside down. But since then, stories of his cruelty, misogyny, coercive behavior and cultural appropriation have made us question our reverence for the great master. Now, fifty years since his death, a new three-part series explores the life and work of a man who was as much monster as genius, and examines his legacy; the suicides and betrayals along with the stunning works of art he leaves behind.

Picasso lived through two world wars and documented a century of war, despair, peace and hope – changing form through periods from blue to pink, cubism, neoclassicism and the avant-garde. He created many of the greatest works of art of the 20th century: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Weeping Woman and Guernica. In a career that spanned eight decades, he created about 150,000 pieces – enough to fill an airplane hangar. His art could be brutal, depicting violence and lust, but he also captured beauty and innocence like no other. And his personal life was just as full of controversy.

Susie Klein, head of arts and classical music television, says: “Picasso was a secret genius – a man who did not talk about his inner life but instead poured it out on canvas – changing his artistic styles as often as he changed wives and girlfriends. When he died he was turned into a lion, but only now, 50 years after his death, do we have the critical distance to untangle 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 myself.”

Sophie Leonard, Executive Producer Minnow Films, said: “It was an incredible honor to delve so deeply into the life and work of one of the most mind-blowing creative talents of all time. Picasso’s work excites, confounds and amazes audiences as much as his personal life. We cannot and will not avoid the problematic elements of Picasso, but what cannot be questioned is the unparalleled influence that this man and his work have had on us.”

Picasso: The Beauty and The Beast opens the door to the paintings, places and people he left behind, with rare testimonies from his daughter Paloma and grandchildren Diana, Bernard and Olivier, along with interviews with his friends and recordings from his many lovers .

The three-part series includes a rare personal archive, behind-the-scenes access to the museums that bear his name, and contributions from art historians and curators who made Picasso their life’s work, including Francis Morris, former director of Tate Modern; Anne Umland, senior curator at MoMA; Jean-Louis Andral, director of the Antibes Picasso Museum; Michael Carey, curator, Gagosian galleries; and British art critic Louisa Buck.

Artists Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel and Jenny Saville also share their insights and perspectives, along with authors Siri Hustvedt and Colm Toibin, psychotherapist and author Philippa Perry and V&A East Director Gus Cayley-Hayford.

Picasso: The Beauty and The Beast is a Minnow Films production produced and directed by John O’Rourke; series director is Alice Perman and executive producers are Sophie Leonard, Alicia Kerr and Greg Sanderson. The series has been commissioned for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer by Mark Bell.

To accompany the series, BBC Four will broadcast a series of classic BBC art documentaries from the Archives which honor other 20th-century art critics, including: Art On The BBC: The Great Salvador Dali; Andy Warhol’s America; Maggie Hambling: Making Love with 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.


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