Olivier Widmaier Picasso — the grandson of “that” Picasso — takes on the family legacy with “Revealed,” a photo exhibit in the Sofitel Hotel lobby in Midtown through July 31.
“Revealed” showcases 30 photos originally published in French magazine Paris Match. They highlight some of the world’s greatest modern artists at work, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, Fernando Botero and more.
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We caught up with Picasso to hear more about the exhibit he curated, which will ultimately tour five cities in the U.S. and Canada.
What do you want people to learn about this exhibit?
You can see how the artists are different — some are very shy like, “OK, take the picture and leave.” Others tell the photographer, “I am photographing the situation.” This is the case for Picasso, this is the case for Koons. It was really interesting to show differences between artists, photographers and studios.
Which photo do you admire most?
I like the Jeff Koons one at the entrance. He’s a man of today, so he has a team, which is not forbidden. That was the same in the Vatican and the French castles, but he’s making art affordable with icons of today. Today it’s Popeye.
Do you have a favorite piece of Picasso artwork?
I’m always focused and passionate about my grandmother, Marie-Therese, the voluptuous woman of the ’30s. So, it’s a natural link.
What would people be most surprised to learn about him?
He was a man listening a lot to people — from the most unknown to people to the most famous people.
What’s a big misconception?
I think people used to see Picasso as an old man doing surrealistic artwork, so they think everything was based on no work. It was the result of a long achievement.
Have you inherited the artistic gene?
I was not really good in drawing. I’m influenced by artistic surroundings using the talent of other people — television, music. We have a documentary called “Picasso, The Legacy.” It will be out in September, worldwide.
Describe your grandfather’s legacy in three words.
Freedom, creativity and quality.
Where do you find artistic inspiration in New York?
I always have to see what the Met is offering. I was very interested by the exhibition about American designer Charles James about the ’40s and ’50s. At the MoMA, there’s an incredible exhibition by the most recent artwork by Jasper Johns. Go and see.
When you visit museums, do you go anonymously?
It’s always funny, because I know most of the presidents of museums — but sometimes it’s normal for me to pay. I remember being at the Guggenheim. I gave my credit card to pay and the girl said, “Oh, Picasso as [in the] painter?” I said, “Yes, but it’s not my fault.” And she said, “You should have free access for life!” I said, “No, thank you very much, but I think it’s better if I pay my respects.”