Picasso Ceramics Hoard Discovered In Uzbekistan

A fine collection of ceramics produced by the artist Pablo Picasso and unseen in public for 40 years has gone on exhibition in Uzbekistan. Curators at the Tashkent’s State Arts Museum said that the 12 items were donated to the museum when it was under Soviet rule and kept in storage for many years. They were first exhibited in Tashkent in the 1960s.

The ceramic collection was donated by the widow of the French painter Fernand Leger a close friend of the artist.  Nadya Leger wanted to see them go to a good home and felt that because both Picasso and Legers political leanings were sympathetic to Soviet Socialism, the Soviet Union was an ideal beneficiary for the works.

Only a handful of staff were even aware that the museum had them. Uzbekistan is famed for its own pottery and ceramics production. The country is renowned for its art collections and has long been used by wealthy Russians to store priceless works, many of which were taken there for safe keeping during World War II. The ceramics were rediscovered by museum workers in 2004 and because the Soviet Union by then had ceased to exist, nobody claimed them back.

“In 1946 Picasso was in Golfe Juan with his friend Louis Fort. They decided to visit the pottery exhibition in Vallauris. He took a particular interest in the Madoura stand and asked to be introduced to the owners – Suzanne and Georges Ramié. They invited him to their Madoura Pottery workshop in Vallauris. There he made three pieces which he left to dry and bake. A year later Picasso returned to see how the pieces had turned out. He was delighted with the quality of the work and asked if he could make more. They agreed and an area of the workshop was arranged especially for him. Immediately, he began to work, inspired by his portfolio of sketches.
So began a long and very productive partnership between Picasso and Madoura. The whole Madoura team became part of the creative process. They made sure Picasso had all the materials he needed and assisted in producing perfectly finished works of art. Suzanne Ramié shared her vast experience, teaching him all the secrets of ceramics. The ceramics ranged from vases, sculptures, plaques to even a complete dinner service. The familiar themes included bullfighting scenes, portraits and nature – goats, birds, and fish. In 24 years over 633 pieces were created in limited editions all engraved with the Madoura stamp”; said Alain Ramié of the Madoura Pottery who produced most of the Uzbekistan collection.


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