The exhibition explores how Picasso redefined the establish parameters of the portrait throughout his career, and the place of caricature in his portraits as well. Unlike more professional caricaturists, who tend to focus on public personalities, Picasso’s subjects were almost always his personal friends and those close to his family circle. In this regard we find portraits of Dora Maar, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Cocteau, Nusch Éluard, Françoise Gilot, Max Jacob, Lee Miller, Fernande Olivier, Jacqueline Roque, Olga Khokhlova, Jaume Sabartés, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, Miguel Utrillo and Marie-Thérèse Walter, amongst others. Given that hardly any of his portraits were done on commission, Picasso felt free to depict and interpret his subjects as he saw fit.
Picasso had an early gift for suggesting a subject’s character in a humorous way, while at the same time faithfully representing those he portrayed. While always original, Picasso was in constant dialogue with the art of the past, using formats and postures with subtle allusions to the work of the great masters. These references are reflected in his personal vision of physical types, the personality in question or the relationship he himself had with those portrayed.