The death of a famous artist or collector genlerates excitement in the art market, as it signals opportunity for art pieces to be sold on the market. When Pablo Picasso passed away in 1973 without leaving behind any will, his granddaughter Marina inherited a fifth of his estate including over 10,000 art pieces. She began to dispose the pieces of work and put several of them on auction in 2015. She explained that she wanted to forget her miserable childhood. What had happened to her? Why did she wish to dispose her grandfather’s work?
Pablo Picasso had several muses, but married only twice. His first marriage was to Russian ballerina Olga Klokhlova, who was Marina’s grandmother. Picasso was known to change his painting style as he met a new muse. Olga, who was glamorous and fancy, made him discard cubism style and revert to classical style. This painting of Olga in a black dress, holds a fan and sits on a flower-patterned rocking chair. The empty background is in stark contrast with the figure which is exquisitely drawn in detail. The painting was created in the year they were married. Though apparently unfinished, Picasso asserted that it was finished and insisted on exhibiting the painting. After three years of marriage, Olga gave birth to Paulo, Picasso’s first son at the age of 40, and Marina’s father. Shortly after his birth, however, Picasso has an affair with a 17-year-old girl and abandons his family. He was not financially responsible for his family, in spite of his wealth. Olga’s grandchildren lived in poverty. Paulo suffered from depression and relied on alcohol. He divorced his wife and left the family when Marina was three years old. Marina’s older brother committed suicide when he was refused to attend his grandfather’s funeral. No matter how famous her grandfather was, his artworks were simply a reminder of her unhappy childhood. It is no surprise that she wished to dispose of them.
Perhaps Olga knew of her unhappy fate? Olga’s expression in the painting appears to be sad and desolate. Though Marina was abandoned by her grandfather and father, she faithfully raised five children including three adopted ones, and has used much of her inheritance to fund humanitarian efforts for children in need.