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Crown Cruise Vacations | May 24, 2024

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  Friendship Between Picasso and his Barber Honored in Special Museum

Jackie Sheckler Finch

Pablo Picasso was an artistic genius. His astounding legacy includes more than 148,500 works – paintings, sculptures, ceramics and illustrations. He even authored books and wrote two plays.

But Picasso was also a very superstitious man. A rarity among artists, Picasso became quite wealthy during his lifetime.

However, Picasso died without a will because he feared that putting such death thoughts down on paper might hasten his demise. Therefore, the fight over his wealth and belongings consumed the family for quite some time after his death.

Although Picasso had many women, he had only two wives – his first wife, ballet dancer Olga Stepanovna Khokhlova who he married in 1918 – and his last wife, Jacqueline Roque, who he married in 1961 and was with him until his death in 1973.

Picasso also superstitiously believed that a person’s hair possessed magical powers and should not fall into the wrong hands.

A photo of Picasso and his longtime barber and confidante Eugenio Arias.

As a result, Picasso always dreaded having his hair cut until he found a barber he trusted to properly dispose of his shorn locks. In fact, the friendship between the trusted barber and artist is honored in a museum in the small medieval hamlet of Buitrago de Lozoya in the Madrid outskirts of Spain.

The museum itself – Picasso Museum Eugenio Arias Collection – is a tribute to the friendship between the two men, Picasso the famous artist and Arias the humble barber. The two men met in 1945 in France at a homage to Spaniards who had fought in the French underground movement against the Nazi invasion.

They quickly bonded over their love of bullfighting, political beliefs in peace and freedom and shared Spanish background. “Arias said he was impressed by Picasso’s eyes, said Picasso had X-ray eyes that could look right into you,” says tour guide Amalia Martinez.

Box Picasso made for Arias to keep his barber’s equipment.

Although Arias lived in France when he met Picasso, the barber was from Buitrago de Lozoya. At first Picasso would go to the barber shop but the artist didn’t like other customers in line for haircuts deferring to him so he soon arranged for Arias to visit him in his own home to cut his hair.

Arias then became Picasso’s friend and confidante with the artist giving the barber art works as gifts, including an impressive wooden box in which Arias kept his barber’s equipment.

Picasso had decorated the box with several bullfighting scenes using pyro-engraving – a somewhat unusual technique in which Picasso engraved on the surface of the wood with incandescent metal. Picasso also dedicated the box “To my friend Arias.”

A shaving bowl with Don Quixote images that Picasso made for his barber Eugenio Arias

“A man from Japan had given Arias a blank check to buy it but Arias would not sell,” Martinez says. “When Picasso was really wanting a bullfighter cape, Arias’  father was a tailor and Arias had his father make the Spanish cape in a special way.”

 

Picasso painted up until a few hours before he died on April 8, 1973, in the French town of Mougins. He died of a heart attack at the age of 91. Picasso was buried in that special cape and Arias sat with his friend’s body throughout the night.

Arias opened the museum in 1985 and dedicated it to art and friendship. Arias died April 28, 2008, in France at the age of 98.

Picasso is honored in his friend’s museum. 

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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