Secret Images Picasso and the Japanese Erotic Print

Museu Picasso de Barcelona

Sheds new light on Picasso’s oeuvre and provides striking confirmation of his belief in art as a venue for the uninhibited expression of human desires.


When Japanese ukiyo-e woodcut prints arrived in the European art world of the late nineteenth century, they caused a sensation and influenced artists as diverse as van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Rodin. Picasso first encountered their bold stylization and expressive flair as a young artist in Barcelona, but his connection with Japanese art has been comparatively neglected by critical studies until now.

Although Picasso expressed an ambivalent attitude to the Japonisme movement, it has recently been discovered that he personally owned more than sixty of the highly erotic prints known as shunga. Now a selection of these rare works from his private collection has been brought together by the Museu Picasso in Barcelona and is shown here for the first time along with Picasso’s own prints and drawings. This juxtaposition reveals a series of fascinating parallels and convergences in terms of both subject matter and composition. The stylistic echoes are most visible in Picasso’s erotic drawings of the first decade of the twentieth century, and in a series of witty and explicit prints made toward the end of his life, which share the frank yet playful attitude to sexual relationships that shines through in the best Japanese works of this genre. Lavishly illustrated with images b

y both Japanese printmakers and the Western artists who followed in their stead, the book features essays by Hayakawa Monta, Ricard Bru, Malén Gual, and Diana Widmaier Picasso.


This stunning book chronicles an important chapter in the history of explicit art.

— The Magazine (Santa Fe's Monthly)


Museu Picasso de Barcelona

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