A bearded and naked man with a bull's mask pulled back from his face kneels on the earth. Facing him a woman, also naked, raises her arms with a barbed stick in each hand in a powerful and triumphant dance. Watching are a female bandit, a monkey, a girl and an elderly lady. Pablo Ruiz Picasso did 'La danza de llas banderillas' on Valentine's Day in 1954 and that sheet of paper holds the desire, the love, the tradition and the death that featured so often in the artistic career of this artist from Malaga. The picture how hangs on a wall in the exhibition room at the house in which Picasso was born, and it also illustrates his lifelong interest in animals, which featured in his works from childhood to later life.
Picasso's fascination with animals, in his personal life and creative world, is now reflected in 'El bestiario de Picasso', the display of his works which has just opened at the museum in the Casa Natal. From the dog Clipper in his childhood in La Coruña to the Afghan hound Kabul who shared his golden years on the Costa Azul in the 1970s, the exhibition contains around 50 works from different creative periods in the life of this genius.
Prints, photographs, ceramic sculptures and illustrated books form part of the display which will remain at the Casa Natal until 7 October. There are several portraits of Picasso with different pets: dogs, cats, a capuchin monkey, his inseparable owl, a goat, a bull, a dove, some small birds...
“Picasso, who can love or abhor men, adores all animals. They are as indispensable at his side as the presence of a woman,” said the photographer Brassaï.
But the first animal on display in 'El bestiario de Picasso' is not a pet; it is a horse. Here we see 'En el circo' (1905-1906) which is part of 'Los Saltimbanquis', then 'La partida' (1951) takes us on to the neoclassicism of 'Página de croquis' (1945), reflecting part of the artist's creative process.
This exhibition features many animals that Picasso used in his works, beyond his recurring identification with the bull-minotaur and use of pigeons in many of his most popular paintings. This is a very varied display, including drawings done in his childhood and youth, 'El halcón' from 1907,the enormous cubist toad from 1949, and many other works from the Casa Natal's own collection.