Leftist Picasso risked his reputation for Franco exhibition

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London, May 28 (ANI): Picasso's reputation as a man who hated fascism and stood steady in his opposition of General Franco could have fallen apart had he accepted the Spanish dictator's proposal for an exhibition.

Picasso's biographer, John Richardson, says the artist secretly undertook negotiations with Franco's representatives in 1956.

Richardson and his collaborator, art historian Gijs van Hensbergen, discovered that the Spanish art critic José María Moreno Galvan was sent to the Côte d'Azur, where Picasso was living, to negotiate about a prospective exhibition for him in Madrid, reports the Guardian.

Galvan reported back to the Spanish cultural attaché in Paris, José Luis Messía, who said: "What a pity García Lorca [poet, dramatist and theatre director] isn't alive, we could have killed two birds with one stone."

Picasso's acceptance of the proposal would have been a major coup for the Falangists, "destroying Picasso's status as a hero of the left; he would have been regarded as a traitor to the left for going back to Spain", said Richardson.

However, the negotiations were stalled after they were leaked to the press.

According to van Hensbergen, the talks were conducted secretly and the Spanish minister of foreign affairs had assured that if the news leaked all reports would be rubbished.

But a small circle knew of the talks; a concerned group of Spanish notables wrote to Picasso requesting him not to be tempted by the proposal - as recorded by Jean Cocteau in his diary.

While Picasso was a steadfast communist, he had deep love for his homeland, and desired recognition there.

Richardson said: "At that moment, the idea of a retrospective was more important to him than the Communist party." (ANI)

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