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Never before seen ‘How to Draw’ books that Picasso made for his daughter are set to go on display

‘How to Draw’ books that Picasso made for his eldest daughter Maya, have been discovered and are set to go on display in a Paris Museum.

Imagine being taught how to draw by one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century? Imagine also, that great artist was your dad. Pablo Picasso lovingly created for his daughter Maya Ruiz-Picasso, what might just be the coolest ‘how to draw’ books ever created.

When she was just five years old, Maya’s father made some very engaging, thoughtful, and educational workbooks for his daughter to learn how to draw. Filling the books with pages of colourful, playful imagery, animals, clowns, acrobats, and doves, all designed to teach his daughter how to use colour, and form.

Pablo Picasso, Maya,
Pablo Picasso, Maya, Jacqueline, Catherine, 1955. Photo: Mark Shaw

His granddaughter, Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso, found the works by chance while looking through the family’s storage. Finding them touching and beautiful she showed them to her mother, now 86, for whom many fond memories came flooding back.

Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso told the Observer: “She said, ‘Of course, those are my sketchbooks when I was little”. We tend to be very visual in the family so immediately she was plunged into that time. It was a very moving moment, not only because you’re talking about one of the greatest artists but also because it made it very human. I was excited. Then I was moved.”

Picasso had been taught to draw by his father, a professor of drawing, so it came very naturally to him to also teach his daughter in the same way, Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso also shared: “There’s a beautiful page where he’s drawing a bowl and she’s drawing a bowl. Sometimes she’s making an image and he’s doing another, showing her the right way to do it. Sometimes they would depict different scenes. Other times, he would draw a dog or a hat. Sometimes he’s using the whole page to draw one particular thing. Other times, he’s depicting certain scenes, scenes of the circus. It’s very interesting.”

picasso and maya
Photo: Guardian

The new collection at the  Musée Picasso Paris includes elegant origami sculptures of birds that he brought to life for Maya from some of his original exhibition invites, and his many portraits of Maya, personal possessions, and photographs, along with the sketchbooks that he made for his daughter, are being shown for the first time. 

picasso and maya
Photo: Guardian

Maya remembers her father with great fondness “I still have fond memories of those moments when we met up in the kitchen to draw together. It was the only place in the apartment where it was warm.”

picasso exhibit paris
Photo: Guardian

In the accompanying book created for the exhibition, Maya writes: “Who has never heard it said when looking at a canvas by Picasso, ‘A child could have done that!’ Many of the artistic revolutions of the 20th century were greeted with mockery and scandal, it is true, but in Picasso’s case, there is a hint of truth in that judgment. As Maya, his first daughter, recalls, ‘the mystery of life, and therefore of childhood, always filled that father of mine with interest’.”

The Maya Ruiz-Picasso, daughter of Pablo, exhibition at the Musée Picasso Paris runs until the 31st of December.