Jean-louis Andral Musée Picasso Antibes 2017


Picasso, Vallauris 1951
Photo by: Edward Quinn


In 1951, Irish photographer, Edward Quinn read an article in his local newspaper in Monaco. Pablo Picasso would be at the opening of the annual ceramics exhibition in the nearby village of Vallauris. Quinn travelled to the exhibition where he shot a series of images with his Rolleiflex camera that captured the spontaneity of the artist. Quinn had no idea that this brief encounter would lead to a life-long friendship with Picasso and several books and documentaries. As well as Picasso, Quinn also photographed other artists such as Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali. The exhibition presents 126 of Quinn’s photographs of Picasso enjoying affectionate moments with his family, socialising with friends, in everyday life and with favourite animals. Every facet of a life in which Picasso, driven by his constant creative appetite, never ceased exploring and questioning. Time to have a conversation with Jean-Louis Andral, the director of the Musée Picasso and curator of the “Picasso sans cliché” exhibition.

Mart Engelen: You had to make a selection from more than 9,000 photos that Edward Quinn shot of Pablo Picasso. Was it difficult and what were the criteria for your final choice?
Jean-Louis Andral: Yes, it was difficult to choose from so many different options. But I had two criteria in mind: I wanted to show their complete relationship over time, from their meeting and the very first photos in Vallauris in 1951 to the last pictures Quinn did in Mougins, a year after Picasso’s death. And I wanted
to choose photos that show Picasso in a very intimate way, in his everyday life, and working in the studios.
ME: Why did you choose “Picasso, sans cliché” as the title?
JLA: It’s a wordplay in French (I like to play with words for titles). In French, cliché is synonymous with photography and it also means an hackneyed expression, as in the English use of the word. So the title means that this exhibition of Picasso clichés (in the French meaning) shows Picasso without “cliché” (in the
English meaning).
ME: You used a specific approach when hanging the photographs. Can you tell me more about this?
JLA: I wanted the audience to understand that these pictures show a 20-year friendship. So I chose to hang them chronologically so that you can see Picasso getting older between 1951 and 1972 but staying the same
incredible, photogenic person.
ME: In what way do you think Edward Quinn stands out compared to the many others who photographed
JLA: Beyond all the photographers who took pictures of Picasso, I think there is a special light of humanity in Quinn’s images. He managed to capture the essence of Picasso as a man, in his relationships with friends and family, and as an artist, with the material of his creation. In his photography, Quinn gave us the feeling of being Picasso’s guest, as he himself really was, at a time when La Californie in Cannes and then Notre-Dame de Vie in Mougins really became part of the artist’s themes, as houses combined with studios. Picasso, who knew very well how to play with a camera and who was aware of the popularity given by pictures in the mass media, is very rarely over-acting in Quinn’s pictures, as if Quinn really was part of the artist’s familiar environment.
ME: What is your favourite image in this exhibition?
JLA: The one on the cover of the catalogue.
ME: How would you define Edward Quinn’s work?
JLA: A very refined art of the right moment, good framing and the taming of the fair light.

—Copyright 2017 Mart Engelen


Picasso at work in Madoura pottery, Vallauris 1953
Photo by: Edward Quinn