Life of Picasso: Picasso and Mythology

Pablo Picasso, “Minotauro”, 1928
Pablo Picasso, “Minotauro”, 1928
Papier collé, 142 x 232 cm
Centre Pompidou, París
© Sucesión Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2024.

The constant presence of classical myth in Picasso's work reveals that for him, myth is a mere pretext, since he reworks it in such a personal way that the result, with few exceptions, has no connection with the original starting point. This influence, manifested in the use of the stories and characters of the myth, was a constant throughout his professional career.

One of the few examples in Picasso's work that essentially respects the classical myth is the series of thirty etchings that the artist made in 1930 to illustrate the edition of the Metamorphoses of the Roman poet Ovid published in 1931 by Albert Skira. 

Some of Picasso's pieces also reproduce classical legends, which are mainly derived from earlier works of art, especially paintings. An example is the classical motif of the three Graces, which appear in the paintings of Pompeii or in Botticelli's Allegory of Spring, among others. In Picasso's creations inspired by this motif, the classical approach is manifested in the joyful tone associated with these deities, as well as their aesthetics, rather than in the mythical content per se.

However, most of Picasso's depictions of myth are characterized by the use of mythological motifs out of context, in which the protagonism is acquired by hybrid beings, fusing human and bestial elements, such as minotaurs, centaurs and fauns. The Minotaur stands out as the character that has had the greatest relevance in his work. He is both represented as an image of enjoyment of multiple pleasures and as a dark and tragic force associated with myth. Picasso first explores the figure in 1928, through a collage enhanced with charcoal entitled Minotaur Running (1928).


Picasso y la mitología, Musée national Picasso-Paris : Picasso et la Mythologie | Musée Picasso Paris

Alcalde, Carlos; Asencio, Pablo; Macías, Cristobal, “Picasso y la mitología clásica”, Universidad de Murcia: PICASSO Y LA MITOLOGÍA CLÁSICA  

Exposición Picasso Minotauro, 2000, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía: 2000022-fol_es-001-picasso-minotauro.pdf (

Ficha de la obra Centre Pompidou: Minotaure - Centre Pompidou