Picasso in Palestine: Slideshow

Reviews / 29.06.2011

Pablo Picasso, Buste de femme, 1943. Oil on canvas, 100 x 80cm. Collection and courtesy the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

On the road to Ramallah, June 2011: 'Picasso in Palestine' exhibition advertised on a roadside hoarding. Photograph by Charles Esche 

Flyer for 'Picasso in Palestine' exhibitionJune 2011, tacked onto a community notice board. Photograph by Charles Esche

'Picasso in Palestine' hoardings in Ramallah, June 2011. Fourteen kilometres away in Jerusalem, a sister exhibition documents the arduous process of bringing Picasso's work to Palestinian territory. Photograph by Charles Esche

Unpacking the precious 'shipment of a small amount of wood, canvas and paint' loaned from the Van Abbemuseum to the International Art Academy of Palestine, June 2011. Photograph by Charles Esche

Picasso's Buste de Femme (1943) in situ and on display at the IAAP, June 2011. A special room-within-a-room restricts visitor numbers to a maximum of three at any one time. Photograph by Charles Esche

Several talks and discussion forums were organised over the opening of the Picasso exhibitions both in Ramallah and Jerusalem, June 2011. For a full programme of talks and participants, please follow this link. Photograph by Charles Esche

IAAP director Khaled Hourani holds a hand-drawn postcard from a Palestinian political prisoner currently held in an Israeli jail, depicting Picasso's Buste in a gesture of protest, June 2011. Photograph by Charles Esche

This image of Picasso's Buste in protest is by a Palestinian political prisoner, currently held in an Israeli jail, June 2011. Hand-drawn in coffee and ink on an official Israeli-issued prison postcard, this was the prisoner's act of being present at the occasion of 'Picasso in Palestine', while deprived of his liberty. Photograph by Charles Esche

The back of the prison-issue postcard 'thanks' the authorities for allowing him to use a blank postcard for this expression of presence while the sender himself, a Palestinian political prisoner, is held in an Israeli jail, June 2011. Photograph by Charles Esche

Last Friday, Pablo Picasso’s Buste de Femme, (1943), was put on display at the International Art Academy Palestine in Ramallah. Marking the very first time that the Picasso’s work has been shown in Palestine and as the result of a loan request to the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, this project is the tenacious vision of artist Khaled Hourani (also the Artistic Director of IAAP). Bringing it to fruition has involved nearly two years of complex legal negotiations, as well as a precarious journey through the Israeli border into occupied Palestinian territory.

Although Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum (and Afterall co-founder) has described the feat as 'after all, only strictly concerned with the shipment of a small amount of wood, canvas and paint from one country to another',1 his article on the museum’s Kitchen blog describes how the simple decision to exhibit the work in Ramallah elicited political and juridical questions, eventually necessitating the construction of a special climatically controlled viewing room-within-a-room in which only three visitors are allowed at a time.

Picasso’s Buste de Femme will be on display at the Internation Academie of Art in Ramallah until 20 July 2011; a sister exhibition at the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem documents the process of bringing the work from its home in Eindhoven to its Palestinian setting.

  1. Charles Esche, 'Picasso in Palestine' on de Keuken, the Van Abbemuseum's topical blog. http://thekitchen.vanabbe.nl/2011/06/27/picasso-in-palestine/ (last accessed June 27 2011)