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Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 14:47 GMT
Picasso's erotic works on display
Erotic works by Picasso go on display in Paris
Picasso's work still has power to shock
Works of art by Picasso, classed as pornographic during his lifetime, have gone on display in Paris.

The French organisers of the first major retrospective of Picasso's risqué artwork believe it would defy political correctness in the United States.

Picasso Erotique, on display at the Jeu de Paume museum in central Paris, shows that almost 30 years after his death the celebrated Spanish artist still has the power to shock.

The review spans drawings Picasso sketched as youth in Barcelona brothels to the better known contorted images of his wives and lovers.

Picasso's 1903 work Nude with Crossed Legs
Picasso's 1903 work Nude with Crossed Legs
The exhibition took two years to prepare and contains around 300 drawings, engravings, sculptures and paintings, many of which have been hidden in private collections and are going on public display for the first time.

Picasso has been called the most heterosexual artist of the 20th century and critics say the majority of his work is erotic since his creativity was triggered by a sexual impulse.

Shock value

The driving force behind the exhibition is Gerard Regnier, director of the Paris Picasso Museum.

He said: "This show could never be put on in the United States. The political correctness there acts as a new form of terrorism for the art world.

"A very strong course of what you might call pornography runs through Spanish art and literature and it must be remembered that Picasso obviously belonged to that tradition."

When Picasso exhibited the sketches shortly before his death in 1973, critics branded him a "dirty old man" and Mr Regnier is uncertain how the public now will react to pictures of couples copulating or women urinating.

He said: "I have no idea what to expect. We live in Europe in a great period of permissiveness but a backlash of morality is also sweeping in."

After leaving Paris, the collection will travel to Montreal's Musee des Beaux Arts and to Barcelona's Picasso Museum.

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