The exhibition, which includes 190 works, is mostly based on pairings of coexistence and juxtapositions of Picasso and Cocteau, and is clearly divided into three thematic sections - Mythology, Life and Death, and Portraiture. The first section against a green background eloquently reveals the identity of the protagonists with classical mythological hybrids – of Picasso with the Minotaur and of Cocteau with the Satyr. It further explores Picasso’s focus on Bacchus, Pan and the Centaur, and Cocteau’s love for Orpheus and the two-faced Janus. Furthermore, it gives the opportunity to show Picasso’s passion for the nude as well as Cocteau’s interest in homoeroticism. The second section focuses on parallel subjects that deal firtly with life through eros, the carnival, the circus and the theater, and subsequently death as expressed in rituals with bulls - mainly taurokathapsia (bull-leaping) and bullfights. It is worth noting that the cream background in which this section is presented has been affected by the ceramic works that dominate the space – Picasso’s Arena (1958) and Cocteau’s Harlequin with Club (1958). The third section against a blue background concerns portraiture, where favorite authors of both artists are texturally and stylistically contrasted – Balzac, Colette, de la Fontaine, Nietzsche, Proust, Shakespeare and Tolstoy by Cocteau, and Balzac, Casagemas, Góngora, Jacob, Rimbaud, Tolstoy, and Valéry by Picasso. The opportunity is given through the works also to see how the artists conceptually render the woman’s face. Also of interest is the comparison of a variety of self-portraits of the two artists, who express in a variety of ways their talent and genius. By the end of the exhibition becomes clear its central idea, as the curator Takis Mavrotas summarizes it, “By means of the work, Picasso and Cocteau fend for the freedom of erotic love, of the unconventional life and the liberation of thought” (2015: 277).
The works of Picasso come from Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster, Germany, while those of Cocteau from the Ioannis Kontaxopoulos Collection. The exhibition was launched in Münster in the aforementioned anniversary of 2015. The Athenians have the privilege of visiting the exhibition in Theocharakis Foundation thanks to indefatigable colector Ioannis Kontaxopoulos, a legal scientist of Brussels, who has allowed his collection to travel in Europe and Asia since 2011. The exhibition is curated in Athens with exemplary integrity by the Foundation’s director of visual program, Takis Mavrotas.
Athens, 18 February 2016