Le donne di picasso

Cristina Vatielli

2012 - 2016


How much pain can a woman bear ?

How much of herself can she renounce for love ?

Cristina Vatielli's photographic project delves deep in the sickness and the suffering of the women who have loved Pablo Picasso, and ultimately reveals a feeling common to all women who have loved badly.

The artist's research is an outcry denouncing physical and pyschological abuses, and at the same time an historical, biographical account of one of the absolute protagonists of twentieth century painting.

The work provides an inclement analysis of the pyschology of women who are protagonists in devastating relationships, seeking with brutal sincerity the fine line between suffering as victims and as silent accomplices. After years of careful research to document the stories of Olga Khokhlova, Eva Gouel, Fernande Olivier, Marie Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Francoise Gilot, Gaby Depeyre and Jacqueline Roque, the author has chosen to represent them through theatrical identification in a series of self-portraits to respond to the urgency of dressing them in their own clothes and giving them a new voice.

Living in the shadow of a powerful and seductive mind, and nourished by the pride of being inspirational muses, all the women ask for is the atrocious compromise of giving up their freedom for the privilege of being "women of Picasso", before being Women.

These images tell with powerful sadness the beauty imprisoned by morbid attentions and the talents crushed by the obsessive jealousy of a man who has betrayed, deluded and ruined many young women from destiny, and in most cases, they are marked by loneliness, depression and suicide.

Victims or accomplices, condescending or rebels, faithful wives or concubines, the eight women of Pablo Picasso are heroines without a story clamoring to be told.

One eye on the forehead and one on the cheek, the nose split in half by a vertical wound, the mouth bruised a shade of blue that transmits pain. Asymetric, disrupted, fragmented, discomposed, torn apart, not only in the images imprinted on the canvas, They are the Women of Picasso.

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  • Olga Khokhlova, Pablo Picasso’s first wife. She was a Ukrainian ballerina from the high Aristocracy. They married in 1918 and spent most of their time together attending aristocratic salons and sharing the life of the elite. When Olga discovered the unfaithful nature of the painter, she went mad, and began to threaten Picasso and the women he frequented.
    She died of cancer in 1951, alone.

  • Marie Therese Walter was Picasso’s mistress and model, from 1927 until about 1935 and the mother of his daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso. Their relationship began when she was seventeen years old; Marie Thérèse always hoped that Picasso would marry her one day. She eventually hanged herself four years after Picasso’s death.

  • Gaby Depeyre worked at a cabaret where she sang and danced. Unlike most of Picasso’s women, she played hard to get with the painter and he would write her love letters all the time. From the beginning, she never let the painter steal her soul. She weighed pro and cons of a possible relationship with Picasso and in the end chose the affective certainty of another man, Herbert Lespinasse. However, she was quite conscious of what she was giving up when she refused Picasso’s marriage proposal, and this makes her choice even more courageous.

  • Eva Gouel is the most elusive of Picasso's eight women. Her real name was Marcelle Humbert, but the painter called her Eva, since she was for him the symbol of the First Woman. The painter was devastated by her early death from tuberculosis in 1915. Picasso professed his love for Eva by painting "I Love Eva" on some of his works. 

  • Dora Maar (Henriette Theodora Markovic) was an independent and anti-conformist woman and photographer. She met Picasso in 1936. The painter kept her away from photography and pushed her into painting (a field in which he was the unquestioned king). Living in the shadow of the greatest artist of the time, Maar suffered from self-doubt and depression throughout her nine-year liaison with Picasso. The painter defined her as the most intelligent of all of his women and the one that made him laugh the most. else. Despite this, he always pictured her as the crying woman. Maar found herself abandoned by Picasso, and for this reason suffered of a nervous breakdown; she subsequently undertook electroshock therapy for three weeks in a psychiatric hospital. Upon recovery, she pursued art and religion with equal verve until her death in 1997.  She said “after Picasso there is only God”. 

  • Fernande Olivier, french model and artist, was the first lengthy relationship by Picasso. Together, they led a bohemian life in extreme economic hardship, making use of opium and other substances. Fernande was a woman of refined tastes, loved perfumes, clothes and jewelry. Posed for many artists of the time, but once entered into relationship with the painter, he forbade her to lend her image to others. Fernande enjoyed acting in the role of women or the subject of Oriental odalisque, but over the years he got tired of that game because of jealousy and in some cases of violence. After their separation Fernande published some memories that infuriated Picasso. He died alone and poor in 1966. In 1988, many years after the death of both, the book "Loving Picasso" was finally published.

  • Francoise Gilot was a French painter and best-selling author. She was a young painter when she met Picasso in 1944 and was his lover and muse until 1953. Picasso and Gilot never married, but they had two children together, Claude and Paloma. After spending ten years with the painter, she was the only one who, sick of Picasso’s relationships with other women, decided to leave him. She wrote the book “Life with Picasso”.

  • Jacqueline Roque  was Pablo Picasso’s ‘last’ muse and second wife. During their 11 years of marriage, he created more than 400 portraits of her. When they first met, she was 26 and he was over 70. Jacqueline saved him from loneliness and old age. Jacqueline inspired the master, and Picasso continued to work with her until the end. He painted more portraits of her than of any other woman. When Picasso died, Jacqueline was so jealous of his lovers and children, that she forbade the rest of the family to attend his funeral. 
    In 1986 (13 years after Picasso’s death), Jacqueline shot herself.