The ICA Archives Student Placement Hannah Plant has been on the look out for gems in the back catalogues of ICA Bulletins. In this piece from November 1966, then-director Roland Penrose discusses the ICA's relationship with Pablo Picasso.
On October 25th 1966 Pablo Picasso celebrates his 85th birthday and a message of congratulations is being sent to him by the Managing Committee in the name of all members of the ICA - Long Live Pablo Picasso.
From the time of its foundation the ICA has had very special reasons to think of Picasso not only as a great artist but as a close friend. In November 1950 when he was in London he was the first to contribute to our ICA visitor’s book in which he covered two pages with a splendid drawing of grasshopper-bulls and of the sun in coloured inks. He has shown his approval during this period by a great many gifts. In most cases these have been drawings which he has given annually to our Picture Fair and which have been its main attractions; also he has helped us in other ways.
When we organised this exhibition of drawings in 1951 in honour of his 70th birthday he went to great trouble to unearth from among vast piles of material in his studio a large number of drawings that had never been seen before by the public, ranging from his early years to the superb Minotaur series of the 30’s.
Five years later he was equally helpful when we gathered together the ‘Portrait of Picasso’ exhibition for his 75th birthday. This was a documentary show of portraits of Picasso by his friends, self portraits, and portraits of his friends by him, made throughout his life.
In 1960 at the time of the Tate’s great retrospective exhibition the ICA held a party at the Tate in honour of Picasso. Picasso sent us a message of encouragement on this occasion which expressed his good wishes and contributed to its immense success.
Two years ago when our attention was focused on the 4th centenary Picasso made three line drawings of Shakespeare, which again he gave to the ICA to be sold for its benefit. The last of these fetched over four figures at the Sotheby auction in June. Now, within the last month we have had an even greater proof of Picasso’s belief in the ICA. Having been told of our new project and the great expansion of our activities in Nash House, Carlton House Terrace, he has given us a painting to be auctioned at Sotheby’s in the second sale which will take place some time next year. Our only regret is that the ICA is not rich enough to keep this superb gift permanently as a sign of the great esteem in which we hold Picasso, the greatest among living artists, and the gratitude and admiration we feel towards him. ■