Picasso: Peace and Freedom reveals a radically different figure from the one often presented in art historical accounts. In it we meet a politically and socially engaged artist, who joined the French Communist Party in October 1944 and remained a member until his death in 1973. Actively engaged in the Peace Movement, for which he was a prominent spokesperson, his work during this period chronicled human conflict and war but also expressed a deep desire for international understanding and equality.
After the Second World War, Picasso, already widely recognised as the world's greatest living artist, emerged as a celebrated political figure and hero of left-wing causes. His 'Dove of Peace' became the international emblem of the Peace Movement and a symbol of hope during the Cold War period. He was a tireless campaigner for freedom and justice, contributing generously both to the Party and a range of humanitarian causes.
Picasso's political commitment and its implications for his work can be seen as one of the last undiscovered territories in the study of the artist. A wealth of new material and research makes a direct link between his art and his politics. Picasso's habit of precisely dating his works means that each can be aligned with world events that were unfolding at the time, whether the Fascist victory and dictatorship in Spain, the Liberation of France, the Algerian War of Independence or the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Alongside masterworks related to the themes of war and peace from the 1940s onwards, this richly illustrated book features posters, prints, drawings, ceramics and an extensive range of ephemera including contemporary letters, archival documents, period publications and newspapers.
Lynda Morris is Curator and AHRC Research Fellow at Norwich University College of the Arts.
Christoph Grunenberg is Director of Tate Liverpool.
Piotr Bernatowicz is an art historian, critic, and Lecturer at the Institute of Art History at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan.
Pierre Daix is an art historian and writer.
Vojte'ch Lahoda is Professor of Art History at Charles University, Prague, and Deputy Director of the Institute for Art History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague.
Annette Wieviorka is a historian and Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris.