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Today, 8th April 2023, is the 50th anniversary of the death of Picasso. He died on 8th April 1973 at the age of 91 in Mougins, France. Mougins is a famous village in the south of France, not far from Cadence's office in Sophia Antipolis. It is famous as a hilltop village much-visited by tourists. But, in fact, much of the surrounding flat area is also part of the municipality. Both Picasso and I lived in that part. Yes, some of the time when I lived in the south of France thirty years ago, I lived in Mougins while I was setting up the group at VLSI Technology that would largely morph into Cadence's engineering team
Although Picasso lived the last years of his life in France, he was Spanish. He was born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881. I once spent 24 hours in Malaga airport, but that's a story for another day. I know this sounds like a joke, but his full name is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. Hispanics are famous for having long names since they maintain both their mother's and father's names and often have multiple first names that they actually use, but this is way beyond that!
During the last years of his life, he lived in a huge villa on the outskirts of Mougins called Notre Dame de Vie. It is still owned privately, so it is not somewhere you can visit. However, there are several museums in the south of France either dedicated to Picasso or showing a fair number of his works. Of course, many of the most famous works are in the big art galleries of the world, such as the Art Institute of Chicago or the National Gallery in London.
Here's one famous painting that is in MOMA New York, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which he painted in 1907 when he was in his mid-twenties.
But I think the most interesting museum is in a totally different city, Barcelona. I was lucky enough to visit when I was there for Mobile World Congress in about 2017. The Picasso Museum in Barcelona has a lot of works, and they are organized in chronological order starting from when Picasso was a teenager. This was before the invention of cubism and other forms of distortion for which Picasso is famous. But as you progress through the museum, you can see the development of his style.
As a teenager, he was doing "normal" figurative art and was clearly very talented. But, as in many areas, you need to be really good at working within the rules before you can get good at breaking them all. Picasso even won some awards for painting the best religious paintings as a teenager. If you make it to Barcelona, be sure to visit the Picasso Museum (and all the Gaudi buildings, again, not today's topic).
Perhaps Picasso's most famous painting is his anti-war painting Guernica. It is enormous. 26 ft by 12 ft. But you need to go to a different city again to see it since it is in Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. There is even a Cadence connection here, for me anyway, since the only time I've been to Madrid was to give a keynote at the European AE conference that was held there in about 2002. I have no idea what I said, but the tapas were great, and I got the surreal experience of seeing the stage version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast in Spanish (which I don't speak). Luckily, my kids were of an age that I'd seen the movie version approximately a billion times.
I got to see Guernica for real. I got to see it not for real when I was a teenager. I went to boarding school, and on Saturday evenings, we would often have guest lecturers come and talk about stuff I don't even remember. One time I think someone flaked, so the head of the history department and the head of the art department at my school did a big lecture on Guernica, the Spanish civil war and the bombing of Guernica on the history side, and Picasso's anti-war painting on the art side. Unknown to us, the head of the art department had made a copy of Guernica on an overhead projector slide (remember them?). At the end of the lecture, the two teachers walked off the stage with the lectern and out of the building, someone flicked a switch on the overhead projector, and an image of Guernica perfectly filled the entire back wall of the stage of the assembly hall, maybe 100 ft across. It was very memorable since I'm talking about something that I saw over fifty years ago. It was great to see it for real about 20 years ago.
I've been privileged enough to live in the South of France near where Picasso lived his final years, plus some more museums., Visit Barcelona (and the museum), visit Madrid and see Guernica, visit MOMA in New York, the National Gallery in London, and several other places. So I seem to have intersected with Picasso many times all over the world.
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