Anyone deciding to visit the stunning new David Hockney exhibition, Drawing from Life at the National Portrait Gallery will find a very surprising picture in the collection of 150 works on display.
It is a simple line drawing that shows Hockney sitting at a table opposite Pablo Picasso who is wearing the hooped top that had become as much of a trademark for him as his unmistakable signature.
But it was a meeting that never actually took place. Although the Spanish painter had always been an inspiration to the Bradford-born artist, ever since his days at art school in the early 1960s, the pair never met. But after Picasso’s death in 1973 he felt moved to create a drawing of an encounter that he wished had taken place.
A few years later in 1980 Hockney also took the artist’s style as inspiration for a set he had been commissioned to design for the opera Parade, Picasso having created the original for its premiere in 1917.
If seeing Hockney’s homage to the Spanish master should pique your interest to find out more about him for yourself, then this could well lead you not to the Louvre or even to the recently refurbished MOMA in New York, but to Malaga in southern Spain.
This is where Picasso was born in 1881 and, although he spent most of his working life in the South of France and there is a museum dedicated to him in Antibes, Malaga is where you will find both the Fundación Picasso and the Museo Picasso. What’s more, when travelling to the city, you have the option to pick up your choice from the range of hire cars from Malaga Airport. There are comprehensive hire options, including long term hires and the possibility of adding a GPS, which will enable you to get out and explore the Andalusian countryside that was an early inspiration to Picasso himself. It’s also a good way to get around the city itself as you head along the Picasso trail.
Fundación Picasso is actually housed in the building where the artist was born and brought up. As well as being the worldwide centre for the history of his life, it also houses an extensive collection of his drawings, paintings and sculptures. There’s a far larger collection, however, at the Museo Picasso, around 10 minutes’ drive away. Here you can see works arranged chronologically charting the many periods of his work including his blue period, cubism and surrealism too. Not surprisingly, the museum does get very busy at peak times during the day, especially in the summer months, but it’s open till 8 pm in July and August – the later you can leave it, the less crowded it will be.
Of course, you’ll also want to spend some time discovering the region’s many other delights including amazing beaches, traditional villages and maybe even the millionaire’s playground of Puerto Banus. So, when you’ve had your fill of masterpieces, just jump in the car and away you go.
When you’ve fully familiarised yourself with Picasso’s Spain, it could be time for the rather less glamorous, but no less interesting, exploration of David Hockney’s Bradford.