One of the most famous painters of all times had a tyrannical side that tends to be forgotten. We are talking about Pablo Picasso’s relationship with women.

The fact of a genius being remembered for revolutionizing music, art or cinema does not mean forgetting their dark sides. Woody Allen’s movies are wit and sarcastic but that doesn’t absolve the sexual scandals that surround him. Janis Joplin had an astonishing voice but heroin killed her. As for Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), his paintings have made history. However, his relationship with women was not an example to be followed. Admired for his talent, feared by lovers. Here some untold facts about Picasso and women to take into account.

picasso and women
Pablo Picasso portraited by Sinsombra


Talking about Picasso and women is deeping into his artistic stages and his most outstanding paintings. The artist from Malaga captured in his works everything he felt and lived. Plastic artist Dora Maar was the one who realized that Picasso’s biography can be  narrated by his portraits. She said  “When Picasso changed wife, everything changed. He moved to another house, changed friends, dog, and of course, style”. By the way, Maar started her romance with Picasso when he was still married with first wife,  dancer Olga Khokhlova (Olga Jojlova with a mantilla, Olga’s portrait in an armchair). Moreover, he also shared house with Marie-Thérèse Walter, model and lover (The dream).

picasso y las mujeres
Portrait of Olga Khokhlova, Picasso’s first wife | Museo Picasso de Barceona.


“Every time Picasso changed his wife, everything changed”

Dora Maar was an admired photographer and painter in Paris. What is more, she captured the creation of Guernica. They met in 1936, when he was 55 years old and she was 29. The crush was instantaneous and for nine years, she posed as a model and became lovers (Dora Maar au chat, The Weeping Woman). Picasso ridiculized her works and mistreated her physically and psychologically. When he changed her for another French painter, Françoise Gilot, she fell into a depression.

Maar was an enigmatic woman, very intelligent and an anti-fascist activist. Despite her genius, she was unstable  and prone to stormy relationships. After the rejection, she isolated herself from the world and was admitted in a psychiatric hospital. Only seven people attended her funeral. 

picasso y las mujeres.
‘The Weeping woman’.


Sadistic and ruthless

Françoise Gilot is proud to be the only woman who has left Picasso. She speaks about that in her book Life with Picasso and Picasso and Matisse. There are no mince words for the artist: “I am the only one to not have been sacrificed to the sacred monster(…) and is alive to tell the tale.” She continues: “He was a wonderful person to be with, it was like fireworks, amazingly creative, so intelligent and seductive(…) but he was also very cruel, sadistic and ruthless with others and with himself (…) It was the greatest love of my life, but you have to protect yourself (…) The others did not, they clung to the powerful minotaur and paid a very high price . “

“Suffering machines”

Picasso once said “Dora, for me, was always a weeping woman… And it’s important, because women are suffering machines”. The quote continues: “For years I’ve painted her in tortured forms, not through sadism, and not with pleasure, either; just obeying a vision that forced itself on me. It was the deep reality, not the superficial one.”

The artist was obsessed with  female body and what that evoked to him. For this reason his pieces are full of twisted tongues, nipples, eyes or exorbitant mouths. Paula Izquierdo, author of the book Picasso and Women explains that “Picasso went from passionate love to the most absolute disdain with each women. Then, he revived with the apparition of a new lover.” Maar was not the only one having a bad ending. Olga Khokhlova, who introduced Picasso to high society, became obsessed with him. The truth is that  he was very jealous too. Not only he abandoned, but also manipulated so that they continued to orbit around him.

picasso y las mujeres
Francoise Gilot portraited.


The woman who made Picasso suffer

Picasso’s family settled in Barcelona in 1895, when he was thirteen years old. Five years later, he would travel to 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris with his best friend, Carles Casagemas. There they met  model Germaine Gargallo so Casagemas fell in love with her. However, she rejected him for, among other reasons, his sexual impotence.

Picasso distrusted this relationship and tried to take his friend away from Paris. That was useless. Carles Casagemas went mad and depressed, to the point of trying to kill Germaine with a gun for rejecting him. After failing the shot, he killed himself. Suicide affected Picasso radically. That tragedy marked his artistic work. It was the beginning of the Blue Period, the absinthe nights at Els Quatre Gats bar, the young ladies of Avinyó and, perhaps, the beginning of their misogyny.

picasso y las mujeres
Portrait of ‘Germaine’