Life of a genius: Remembering Pablo Picasso on his 140th birth anniversary

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August 22, 2021 1:30 AM

An auction of 11 artworks by Picasso will be organised by Sotheby’s to celebrate the life and art of the genius painter on his 140th birthday in October

A representation of Picasso's Guernica in SpainA representation of Picasso's Guernica in Spain

“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction,” said master artist Pablo Picasso over a century ago. His words of wisdom bear a resemblance to the life and works of the most important and respected artists of the 20th century. Known for his eccentric style, using geometric shapes in human and other forms, Picasso created more than 20,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics. He pioneered Cubism, an avant-garde art movement that changed the face of European painting and sculpture. Surrealism, too, influenced his style of artistic discipline. A great example of a surrealist-cum-Cubist depiction is in the masterpiece titled Guernica (1937), a painting which laments the Spanish Civil War. Dark colours and monochrome themes depict the hard realities, fear, anguish and sufferings. Besides reorganising figures in multiple abstract forms, Picasso is also credited for inventing constructed sculpture and collage art.

Picasso is evergreen, but this year is special as the world will celebrate his 140th birth anniversary in October. And it’s a good time to make an acquaintance with the inspiring muses of the famous master. Celebrating the life and art of the genius painter on his 140th birthday this October, an auction of Picasso’s 11 artworks will be organised by Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest brokers of fine and decorative art, jewellery and collectibles. It will be the first time that Sotheby’s will host an auction outside of major art hubs such as London and New York. The auction on October 23 will display Picasso’s career, and a highly curated selection of paintings, works on paper, and ceramics that span more than 50 years of artistic output from 1917 to 1969. The sale will broadcast around the world via a livestream viewable on This will be a first-of-its-kind marquee sale from Sotheby’s and MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection of MGM Resorts, a renowned entertainment company with casinos and hotels. The sale is estimated to fetch over $100 million and is touted as the most valuable auction dedicated to Picasso that has ever been held.

The Sotheby’s auction room will be set up in Las Vegas’ luxury hotel and casino The Bellagio, which is known for its extravagant 3,000 rooms owned by The Blackstone Group. It is operated by MGM Resorts International.

Bringing fine art to Las Vegas, MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection, which opened in 1998, houses a classic collection of the master’s iconic paintings and charming ceramic pieces. MGM’s historic collection boasts about 900 works by 200 artists, including modern pieces by the likes of Bob Dylan and David Hockney, which adorn the walls of its hotels around the world.

While diversity has long been in MGM Resorts’ DNA, Ari Kastrati, MGM Resorts’ chief hospitality officer, feels committed to create an even more inclusive collection that maintains the breadth of the existing portfolio, while giving a greater voice to artists from under-represented communities.

Accompanying the auction will be a four-day exhibition of luxury property specially curated by Sotheby’s, which will feature a selection of the world’s finest luxury objects, including automobiles, jewellery, watches, handbags, sneakers and more. “As one of the most famous, beloved and accomplished artists of all time, we couldn’t imagine anyone better than Picasso to inaugurate this unique art and culture experience,” said Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s chairman and worldwide head of sales for global fine art, in a press statement.

Femme au béret rouge-orange (estimate $20-$30 million), one of Picasso’s defining portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter (the artist’s famed muse and lover who inspired many of his most revered portraits of the 1930s) besides portraits like Homme et enfant (estimate $20-$30 million) and Buste d’homme (estimate $10-$15 million) will be part of the collection.

Homme et enfant encapsulates the artist’s preoccupation with his life and legacy during the late period of his career. Also included is Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs (estimate $10-$15 million), a museum-quality still life painted by Picasso during the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1942. Several works on paper, including a portrait of the commedia dell’arte character Pierrot (estimate $2.5-$3.5 million); Nature morte aux fleurs et au compotier (estimate $6-$8 million), an additional wartime still life painted in Paris in 1943; Aiguière – Visage (estimate $60-$80,000), a ceramic pitcher; and many more are also enlisted for the show.

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