Olga Khokhlova in Afternoon of a Faun, circa 1916
Olga Stepanovna Khokhlova
June 17, 1891
|Died||February 11, 1955 (aged 63)|
Olga Picasso, (born Olga Stepanovna Khokhlova. Russian: О́льга Степа́новна Хохло́ва, Ukrainian: О́льга Степа́нівна Хохло́ва, June 17, 1891 – February 11, 1955) was a Ukrainian ballet dancer of noble descent. She was also the first wife of Pablo Picasso, one of his early artistic muses and the mother of his son, Paulo.
Olga Bebeshka Khokhlova was born in the town of Nezhin, Chernigov Governorate, (Ukraine, then located in the Russian Empire). Her mother Lydia Zinchenko was of Ukrainian descent. Her father was a Russian officer. The Khokhlovs family had three sons and two daughters. Olga wanted to be a ballerina from the time she visited France and saw Madame Shroessont perform. She became a member of the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev.
On May 18, 1917, Olga danced in Parade – a ballet by Sergei Diaghilev, Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau – on its opening night at the Théâtre du Châtelet. Pablo Picasso had designed the costumes and set for the ballet. After meeting Picasso, Olga left the group, which toured South America, and stayed in Barcelona with him. He introduced her to his family. At first his mother was alarmed by the idea that her son should marry a foreigner, so he gave her a painting of Olga as a Spanish girl (Olga Khokhlova in Mantilla). Later Olga returned with Picasso to Paris, where they began to live together on the Rue La Boétie.
Marriage to Picasso
In July 1919, Pablo and Olga went to London for the performance of Le Tricorne, for which Picasso had designed costumes and sets, according to Diaghilev's wishes. The ballet was also performed at the Alhambra, in Spain, and was a great success at the Paris Opera in 1919.
On February 4, 1921, Olga gave birth to a boy named Paulo (Paul). From then on, Olga and Picasso's relationship deteriorated. In 1927, Picasso began an affair with a seventeen-year-old French woman, Marie-Thérèse Walter. In 1935, Olga learned of the affair from a friend, who also informed her that Walter was pregnant. Immediately, Olga took Paulo, moved to the South of France, and filed for divorce. Picasso refused to divide his property evenly with her, as required by French law, so Olga stayed legally married to him until her death from cancer in Cannes, France, in 1955.
Paulo, who died on June 5, 1975, was married to Emilienne Lotte and divorced in 1953. They had two children: Pablito (born on May 5, 1949 – committed suicide on July 2, 1973) and Marina (born on November 14, 1950). Paulo, later in life, married Christiane Pauplin. The couples' only child, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, co-founded the Picasso Museum in Malaga along with his mother.
In 1990, Marina Picasso founded an orphanage in Thu Duc, Vietnam (a former military base). Named "The Village of Youth", it was funded by Marina’s inheritance from her grandfather, Pablo Picasso. Marina’s foundation has also organized the digging of wells in inland Vietnam, sends regular shipments of milk to orphanages and hospitals and grants farming subsidies and scholarships.
- Richardson, John (2007). A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932. Knopf. ISBN 978-0307266651.
- Picasso, Marina; Louis Valentin (2001). Picasso, My Grandfather. Riverhead Books. ISBN 978-1573221917.
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