An exhibition devoting the rare and intimate testimony of this woman to the talents of a little-known writer, in her relationship to Pablo Picasso and the artists of the famous Bateau-Lavoir, begins Friday at the Montmartre museum in Paris.

The literary works of Fernande Olivier, in particular her memoirs published in 1988, 20 years after her death, dialogue with a hundred paintings, sculptures and drawings by Picasso and the greatest artists of the 20th century whom she rubbed shoulders with in this famous city of artists established on the Montmartre hill, not far from the Sacré-Coeur and the famous Lapin Agile cabaret.

This choice is claimed by Cécile Debray, director of the Picasso museum in Paris, who is leading the commemorations in France, “to mark a stopping point and ask the question of what the Picasso heritage is”, she said. explained to the press on Wednesday while presenting the exhibition.

– Young audience –

On the occasion of this anniversary, she wishes to “offer rereadings” of the icon of modern art “to address a young audience, which is undoubtedly the most sensitive to questioning on social networks. and attacks

This movement was born in the United States in October 2017 to encourage women victims of sexual violence to testify. He shook mentalities around the world and did indeed “tarnish” Picasso, acknowledged Ms. Debray in an interview with AFP in April.

Since the painter’s death in 1973 in Mougins on the Côte d’Azur, several controversial works have painted a very gloomy portrait of him. A recent feminist podcast devoted to Picasso, followed by 250,000 people but devoid of “historical sources” according to Ms. Debray, depicted a violent and destructive man, not hesitating to abuse very young women.

“Five years after

– “Context culture” – 

Fernande Olivier, says Ms. Debray, “it is both a look at the feminine condition of the beginning of the century, very raw and realistic, and a worker, multiplying odd jobs to remain independent outside marriage, a strong woman, extremely intelligent in his writing and in his view of society and artists”.

“It’s an almost equal relationship” with Picasso, adds Ms. Bondil. “They were born in exactly the same year (1881), they met when Picasso was not recognized at all and lacked everything. He was jealous, worked a lot, of course, but that’s not the picture at all (negative) that Françoise Gilot made of it or the one that Picasso’s granddaughter will make”, Marina, she adds.

We thus discover a Picasso in love, “tender and loving. The only lover of this type that Fernande Olivier will have, which greatly counterbalances the figure of the Minotaur”, estimates Mrs. Debray.

The life of Fernande Olivier, whose real name is Amélie Lang, says a lot about the status of women at the beginning of the 20th century.

Abandoned by her parents and educated by an aunt in the petty bourgeoisie, she is forcibly married to a man who beats and rapes her, and from whom she flees.

Arrived at the Bateau-Lavoir as a professional model in 1901, she met Pablo Picasso in 1904 and was his companion until 1912.

His literary talent will notably give rise to the book “Picasso and his friends”, published in 1933, as well as his posthumous “Intimate Memories”, edited by his godson Gilbert Krill, and now out of print.