The passionate Picasso

First aired on The Current (04/05/12)

To be a lover and a muse of Pablo Picasso must have been an exciting yet terrifying experience.

After all, Picasso was arguably the greatest painter of the 20th century and one of the most influential men of his age. But, by many accounts, he and his fiery temperament left behind a trail of shattered relationships and broken hearts.

picasso-bio-175.jpg"I think that if you were a woman, probably the last thing you'd want to do was get involved with Picasso," said Mark Hudson, an art critic and author of Titian: The Last Days. Hudson spoke to CBC's The Current as part of the show's special look at Picasso as the Art Gallery of Ontario presents a special exhibition of the painter's work.

"I think everyone who was involved with him was more or less destroyed by it, [or he] at least became an immensely dominating factor in their lives. Two of them committed suicide, sometime afterwards, but nonetheless they did. At least one went mad."

Even the women who came out of their time with Picasso with their lives intact are forever linked to him. Hudson argues that Fran├žoise Gilot, an art student who met Picasso when she was 21 and he was 61, became a successful artist and writer in her own right, yet her accomplishments are still overshadowed by her relationship with the great painter.

According to Hudson, Picasso had hundreds of lovers, but only five or six had a significant role in his art. It was in the artist's nature to push everything, including his relationships with lovers and friends, to the very limits.

"I think that he had an incredible creative capacity and a very destructive capacity as well. I mean, he could be extremely cruel, not only to women, but to anyone who in a sense became dependent on him. If you were a friend of his and you weren't that bothered by it, fine. If he sensed that in any way you needed him, then he could be very, very abusive, and I think that anything he did, he wanted to go to the absolute extremity with it."

To listen to the rest of The Current's special on Picasso's women, visit this webpage.