With very simple means, mainly through collages and voice-over, this video tells the story of a more or less forgotten Picasso-drawing and its consequences. In March 1953, Pablo Picasso drew a portrait of Joseph Stalin on the request of his friend Louis Aragon. The drawing was published in the French communist weekly Les Lettres Françaises together with various texts praising the newly deceased Soviet leader.
On one level, it is a story that evolves around two seemingly opposite icons from the 20th century, Picasso and Stalin, and what they had, or didn’t have, in common. On a different level, it is a story about art and artistic freedom, or un-freedom, and of ways of reading and using images, particularly images of so-called great men. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this anecdote from the beginning of the cold war is how a simple charcoal drawing can stir such strong feelings, discussions and intrigue as this one did.
The screening is a parellel event of the İstanbul Eindhoven-SALTVanabbe: Modern Times exhibition that starts from the early 20th century and ends with the epistemic shifts of the 1960s. The exhibition, curated by Zeynep Yasa Yaman will be on view through December 30 at SALT Galata, incorporates stories of Western and “other” modernities.
SALT Beyoğlu, Walk-in Cinema
Stalin by Picasso or Portrait of Woman with Moustache
English with Turkish subtitles
more at SALT