in the footsteps of Picasso in Spain and France

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Malaga, birthplace of Picasso

Picasso often said to his children: “I want Málaga to have a great museum with my works” and his wish has come true, because Málaga, overlooking the mild sea, now has a splendid museum, soon to set up an exhibition centered on the body as an artist’s tool. The sculptures on display cover the many styles and materials Picasso used to express the human form. After exploring the artist’s three-dimensional work, he discovers the places he frequented. Although he never returned after the civil war, Málaga made a lasting impression on him. With an expert guide you can visit Casa Natal Picasso, Pablo’s birthplace (now an educational foundation that organizes exhibitions), his nursery school, then his father’s workshop and his baptismal church. Picasso Sculptor: Matter and Body runs from May 8 to September 10, 2023 (; Locals tours starts from £42 per person (; stay at the Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro (, double rooms from £114.

A childhood in A Coruña

The apartment of the Picasso family La Coruña.

The apartment of the Picasso family La Coruña. Photography: Sergio Azenha/Alamy

From the age of nine to 13, Pablo Picasso lived in the charming Galician city of A Coruña. The Museum of Fine Arts here has sketchbooks of figure studies, along with an exquisite teenage oil painting of a sparrow, and this season its exhibition commemorates 11 periods in the artist’s life. Visit the bourgeois apartment where his family took root in 1891, but also take time to appreciate the city’s gritty vibe that would have been all too familiar to Picasso, and explore the hilly old town before heading to the port. Here, countless beautiful buildings with glass balconies have earned A Coruña the Edwardian nickname of ‘City of Crystal’. Picasso: White in the blue of memory runs up to June 25 at the Museum of Fine Arts (; stay at Meliá Maria Pita (, double rooms from £65.

Picasso and Miro in Barcelona

Els Quatre Gats, Barcelona.

Els Quatre Gats, Barcelona. Photograph: Jon Arnold Images Ltd/Alamy

The first museum dedicated to Pablo’s work to open during his lifetime was the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. Picasso spent his adolescence in Barcelona and at 13 enrolled in an advanced course at the art school where his father taught. Today the collection boasts more than 4,000 works from his formative years, occupying five large mansions on Carrer Montcada. In addition to two other Picasso exhibitions in the city, later this year he will join the Fundació Joan Miró for an exhibition focusing on friendship and the work of artists. Skip the lines to the museum as part of a Picasso guided walking tour where you’ll also hear stories from Picasso’s youth, visit his art school, Escola de la Llotja, and see Els Quatre Gats, a brewery and cabaret that has staged his first exhibition. Miró-Picasso goes from 19 October as of February 25, 2024 (; combined tickets for Picasso Walking Tour e priority entrance a Museu Picasso, from £31; stay at H10 Cubik (, double rooms from £94.

Barcelona and beyond

Throughout his life, Picasso painted a huge number of landscapes focusing on his love affair with Catalonia, such as The reservoir, Horta de Ebro. After following in his footsteps in Barcelona, ​​visit Horta de Sant Joan, a small hilltop village about 200km from the city where Picasso found solace and inspiration, lived there for a year and then returned to develop his style proto-cubist. He said of the place: “Everything I know I learned in Horta”. Don’t miss the Picasso Center, which exhibits works he created during his visits here. Then visit the historic heart of the village among whose buildings appear in his work the Tafetans farm, the Plaza de Missa and the convent of San Salvador. THE Picasso Center (; stay at Casa del Pintor (, two night minimum in a three bedroom house, from £278.

Influences of the Old Master in Madrid

Madrid skyline.

Madrid skyline. Photography: rudi1976/Alamy

Alongside fabulous tapas bars, trendy neighborhoods and a vibrant nightlife, Madrid, with its golden triangle of enormous museums – the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza – is worthy of a city break at any time. moment. However, this being Pablo’s memorial year, there is no shortage of exhibitions dedicated to his production. The artist lived in Madrid while studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, and often spent time in the Prado, copying works by Goya, Velázquez, El Greco and Titian. Head there and you can see an exhibit showing his Cubist ties to El Greco. Alternatively, the Casa de Velázquez presents Picasso v Velázquez, highlighting his new approach to the previous master. It joins seven other Picasso exhibitions scattered around the city. Picasso – El Greco at the Prado from 13 June to 17 September (; Picasso v Velázquez at the Casa de Velázquez runs from September to November (; stay at La Posada del Dragon (, double rooms from £150.

The artist in Paris

Reevaluates the artist in a playful new light at the Musée National Picasso in Paris, where British designer Sir Paul Smith is curating his collection through a more contemporary lens. Expect rooms decorated in Smith’s trademark colors and stripes, with ceiling tapestries of Breton tops by Picasso, alongside pages torn from 1950s fashion magazines. Top it all off with a self-guided walk through Montparnasse, where Picasso first lived in the 1900s. This walk follows not only the artist’s footsteps, but also those of his friends and contemporaries Giacometti, Man Ray, Modigliani, and Miró. Stops along the way include his former workshop at 242 boulevard Raspail. Picasso Celebration, Musée National Picasso, Paris, it will last until August 27th (museepicasso; stay at Hotel Jeanne d’Arc (, double rooms from £145.

Later years in Antibes

Art in the courtyard of Château Grimaldi.

Art in the courtyard of Château Grimaldi. Photography: Alex Hinds/Alamy

The austere-looking Château Grimaldi flanks the ramparts of pretty Antibes, and from its terrace you can admire the view of the Mediterranean. Built in the late 14th century for feudal lords, Picasso lived here for six months in 1946, setting up a studio. Antibes presented a solid alternative to the French Riviera hotspots, and at 60, Picasso was at his creative peak. The castle eventually became the Picasso Museum in Antibes, which houses around 250 works including drawings, ceramics and carpets. For this commemorative year, an exhibition is being staged that shows the intense creativity of the artist’s last years. Follow this with a visit to nearby Vallauris, a town renowned for its ceramics, where Picasso lived with Françoise Gilot and their two children until 1955. The Magnelli Museum here focuses on Picasso’s prolific work in ceramics. Picasso 1969-1972: runs the end of the beginning until June 25 (; runs Picasso’s Ceramic Creation in Vallauris until 30 October (; stay at the Hotel Belles Rives in Cap d’Antibes (, double rooms from £168.

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