Picasso Exhibition Brings “The Joy of Life” to Crete

A new exhibition at the Museum of Ancient Eleutherna explores how the timeless beauty of Classical Greek art shaped Pablo Picasso’s playful creativity.

The Museum of Ancient Eleutherna on Crete is set to captivate art lovers with its latest exhibition, “Pablo Picasso – The Joy of Life.” Opening on July 6, and running until October 20, this remarkable exhibition of 62 works by Picasso celebrates the vibrant and playful spirit of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists.

Curated by Professor Nikolaos Chr. Stampolidis, current Director of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, and Paloma Picasso, the artist’s daughter, the exhibition showcases Picasso’s exuberant creativity and his unending quest to see the world through the eyes of a child. This diverse collection offers a unique glimpse into Picasso’s playful side, emphasizing his whimsical approach to art, and the enduring influence of ancient Greek mythology on his work.

The exhibition includes an array of Picasso’s drawings, paintings, and sculptures that reflect his fascination with childhood and his ability to blend serious artistic practice with a sense of play. Among the notable works are his whimsical wood carvings and vibrant drawings using colored pencils, depicting intimate moments with his children, Claude (who died in 2023) and Paloma. These pieces reveal Picasso’s personal joy in creating art that is both sophisticated and accessible, bridging the gap between the avant-garde and the innocence of youth.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the series of colorful crayon drawings that depict everyday moments and fantastical scenes involving his children. These works, such as “Claude on Horseback” (1954) and “Paloma in Aragonese Dress” (1954), showcase Picasso’s adeptness at capturing the spontaneity and wonder of childhood through simple yet expressive lines and colors. Additionally, the exhibition features Picasso’s three-dimensional works, including intricate wood carvings like “Paloma’s Doll” (1952). These pieces illustrate his skill in transforming ordinary materials into delightful and imaginative creations, underscoring his belief that art should be a joyful, everyday experience.

Professor Stampolidis, the curator, emphasizes that the exhibition aims to provide visitors with an intimate look at Picasso’s lesser-known works, focusing on his playful and experimental side. “Picasso’s art is often associated with his more serious and groundbreaking contributions to modern art, but this exhibition aims to highlight how his sense of play and joy permeated his work,” he explains. Stampolidis, a native of Crete and a specialist in Geometric and Archaic Greece, has been conducting excavations at ancient Eleutherna since 1984.

Interwoven with these themes are the influences from ancient Greek art, particularly from the Museum’s own collection. Picasso’s fascination with mythological creatures and figures is evident in his works like “The Minotaur” (1958), an oil on canvas piece. This piece echoes the influence of the ancient “Marble head and torso of a Minotaur” from the 1st century AD, a copy of a Greek original from the 5th century BC, housed in the Vatican’s Museo Pio Clementino. The myth of the Minotaur, a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull, synonymous with the Minoan culture of Bronze Age Crete, captured Picasso’s imagination, leading to numerous representations in his art, underscoring his exploration of the duality of human nature.

Another example of ancient influence is the “Faun Revealing a Sleeping Woman” (1936), an etching and aquatint on paper. This work resonates with the ancient “Marble double relief (‘amphiglyph’) from ancient Eleftherna,” where a semi-nude figure sleeps on a capital, approached by satyrs. The ancient relief, dated between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD, depicts a scene of mythological playfulness and seduction, themes that Picasso explored extensively in his work.

Picasso’s ceramic pieces, such as the “Faun’s Head” (1948) and “Goat’s Head in Profile” (1952), also draw from classical forms and motifs. The “Marble statuette of a very shaggy young he-goat” from the 1st century BC, found in the Museum’s collection, illustrates the long-standing artistic tradition of depicting goats, a motif Picasso reinvented in his own unique style. This statuette, depicting Aphrodite mounted on a he-goat, links the ancient with the modern, showing the continuity of artistic inspiration through the ages.


Lastly, the exhibition includes Picasso’s interpretation of everyday objects, akin to the ancient “Clay oenochoe of Early Wild Goat Style” from the mid-7th century BC. This clay jug, decorated with lively and stylized animal figures, parallels Picasso’s exploration of form and function in his ceramic works, blending the utilitarian with the artistic.

The Museum of Ancient Eleutherna, located 25 km southeast of Rethymno, offers a fitting backdrop for this vibrant exhibition. Known for its rich history and stunning archaeological finds, the museum provides a unique setting where ancient history and modern art intersect.

For more information on the exhibition and to plan your visit, please check the Museum’s official website.

Read More


Swiss Tourists’ Top Greek Island Beaches Revealed

Famed for their enchanting beaches, Greece's islands remain a top...


Archaeologists Unearth Mysterious Monument in Crete

A nearly 4,000-year-old Minoan structure, discovered atop a hill near...


Greece Shines Again in Blue Flag Beach Rankings

Greece maintains second place globally at this year’s Blue Flag...


“Sense the Authentic”: Crete Launches its Latest Tourism Campaign

Boasting stunning landscapes, rich history, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality,...