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Picasso work under high security at West Bank museum

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – A Ramallah art museum has become the first in the West Bank to take delivery of an artwork by Picasso, which will go on view to the public for a month, beginning on Friday.

The 1943 canvas, Buste de Femme, was loaned by the Van Abbe museum in Eindhoven, Netherlands, as the centerpiece of the “Picasso in Palestine” project in which local artists will lecture on the late Spanish painter’s work.

Khaled Horani, director of the International Academy of Art in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, said delivering the masterpiece safely to the Israeli-occupied West Bank had posed a logistical challenge.

“A Dutch group visited the Palestinian territories more than once to make sure the security situation was OK and that the museum where the painting is to be kept has suitable temperature and humidity,” he told AFP.

The work had to pass through an Israeli military checkpoint on its journey.

“This is a historical moment for us,” he said. “Even though we will have it for one month only.

“It says we are worthy to be like other countries that exhibit paintings by a famous artist like Picasso.”

The academy quoted Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbe Museum, as saying it was a historic event not only for the Palestinians.

“Our Picasso will be changed by its journey to Ramallah, it will take on extra meaning and the story will remain a part of the history of the painting from this moment on,” it said.

“It feels like we are constructing new histories with such a project as well as preserving old ones,” it added.

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