Pablo Picasso’s stepdaughter, Catherine Hutin-Blay, is planning a museum devoted to the famous artist and his second wife, her mother, in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. The Jacqueline and Pablo Picasso Museum will feature a trove of more than 2,000 works from the period when the couple was together (1952 to 1973), which Hutin-Blay inherited from her mother. Among them are over 1,000 paintings, as well as sculptures, photographs, ceramics, and more.
On December 13 of last year, the municipal council of Aix-en-Provence approved the sale of an old convent — that had, until 2015, served as a middle school — to Hutin-Blay’s Madame Z foundation for €11.5 million (~$14.1 million), Fréquence Sud reported. The price, a discount of about €700,000 from the property’s market value according to the Art Newspaper, was justified by the city due to the enormous tourism revenue expected from the Picasso Museum. In addition to more than 10,000 square feet to display its permanent collection and over 5,000 square feet for special exhibitions, the museum will boast a Picasso research center, pottery and printmaking facilities, a 200-seat auditorium, and more.
“The foundation has committed to completing the museum and all related work within three years, starting from the day the necessary permits are granted for the project to begin,” a spokesperson for the city of Aix-en-Provence told Hyperallergic.
The Picasso Museum is a major coup for the city, which was the hometown of Paul Cézanne yet lacks a major museum. The municipal art museum, the Musée Granet, has a small and unremarkable permanent collection, though it does often host major temporary shows. The nearby Caumont Centre d’Art has no permanent collection and hosts a very eclectic range of special exhibitions. However, there are high hopes for the Picasso Museum, which the Madame Z foundation estimates will draw about 500,000 visitors annually, or 1,500 per day — roughly double the attendance of the Musée Granet or the nearest institution devoted to Picasso, which is in Antibes.
In addition to the collection of works by her stepfather that will fill the new museum, Hutin-Blay also owns the Chateau de Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, which Picasso bought in 1953. He and Jacqueline are buried there.