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Picasso: Spanish tradition, and Malaga native

Carlos Hernández, freelance guide in Malagaturismo.es

Who was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad?

Well, yes, our Picasso. While he is internationally known by his mother's surname, the truth is that Pablo Ruiz Picasso was baptized with 8 names (some of them compound, as you can see) so the man had many to choose from!

The subject of our blog was born on October 25, 1881 in the Plaza de la Merced, one of the most iconic and active plazas in the city of Malaga, where today you can find a statue of Picasso. He lived there with his family until he was 9 years old, when they emigrated to the north of Spain; first to La Coruña (Galicia) and finally the city of Barcelona four years later.

One of our colleagues from Malagaturismo.es with the statue of Picasso in Malaga.

Today you can find the artist’s Birthplace Museum at number 15 in this plaza in Malaga.  It’s a small museum full of curiosities and it holds a special place for the people of Malaga. Throughout the halls of the museum visitors can find a series of objects and photographs that link the artist with his hometown, Malaga, and with the country that saw him grow and evolve, Spain.

He lived in France, but Malaga was always close to his heart!

Picasso ended up settling in France after a number of years travelling between Madrid, Barcelona and Paris. Despite his French residence he never forgot his origins and always considered himself Malagueño, Andalusian and Spanish. When, at the age of 85, he was offered French nationality, he refused it, proud of his past. 

A very characteristic symbol of our country is the so-called "Spanish cape": a coat made of cloth and velvet with lining in bright colors, especially red. The origin of the Spanish cape dates back to the 18th century and is originally from Salamanca. Nobles, kings and other cultural figures wore this unique garment.

In one of the rooms at Picasso’s Birthplace Museum (which is close to the Alcazaba and the Roman Theater of Malaga) visitors can find a reproduction of a Spanish cape made in Madrid, given to him by his great friend Luis Miguel.  Miguel was a bullfighter and wanted to bring him closer, at least emotionally, to his country. It became one of his favorite garments since it reminded him of his years in Spain. At the request of his widow Jacqueline Roque, Picasso was buried with one of his Spanish capes.

Bullfighting, art and passion

Continuing with the artist's hobbies, his love for bullfighting began as a child. He would accompany his father and uncles to the bullring of La Malagueta, where he saw some of the best bullfighters of the time. It is not surprising that this theme was soon after reflected in work.

His first known work is "El picador amarillo" (The Yellow Bullfighter).

His first known painting ("El picador amarillo"), his first engraving ("El zurdo"), and his first ceramics, all featured the theme of bullfighting. Bullfighting was a common feature throughout his different artworks as a representation of his fears, obsessions and fantasies, including his virility and the struggle against time and death.

At the Museo Casa Natal visitors can see examples of his ceramics, some of which depict authentic bull rings. The museum also contains photographs of Picasso attending a bullfight held in his honor.

Flamenco in "Málaga la Cantaora".

Another hobby, flamenco, was also influenced by his home town. It was not surprising, since this popular tradition caused the city to be nick-named "Málaga la cantaora" (Málaga the flamenco singer) at that time. José Ruiz, Picasso's father, used to visit flamenco shows at the city’s numerous “cafés cantantes” (“singing cafes”) with his friends, including the famous "Café de Chinitas" in which Federico García Lorca performed.

One of Picasso’s friends, Rafael Alberti, said that the painter loved flamenco and even sang coplas for his close circle of friends. The poet himself said that it was the Malaga influence of Picasso’s childhood that ignited his passion for flamenco singing, dancing and guitar playing.

On the occasion of Picasso's 80th birthday, a number of artists participated in several tributes to the painter in different regions in the south of France, where he lived. Days later Picasso held a private celebration with his Spanish friends and invited a number of flamenco artists for whom he felt a special predilection, such as Antonio "El Bailarín".

Picasso, brush in hand in front of a bull in a field

Visitors can really appreciate this Spanish essence at Picasso's Birthplace Museum, a place that saw the birth of one of the most prolific artists in history, one of the greats of the memory of our country, and specifically, of our beloved Malaga.

If you want to enjoy the more than 3000 years of history of Malaga (and learn about the life of the most famous malagueño, Pablo Picasso) then plan your visit and come and join us in one of our free tours and tourist plans that we have selected for you to enjoy.


Thank you for reading the article. For more travel tips from our local guides around the world, check the blog section of our website! We release unique travel recommendations every week. If you like this article or have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment below!

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