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Olga Khokhlova, Russian wife of Picasso

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Love without borders

Olga Khokhlova was was a Ukrainian-Russian dancer. a member of the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev. They met in 1917 when Olga danced in Parade, a ballet by Sergei Diaghilev. 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. Her appeal for Picasso mystified his friends and continues to puzzle historians.

Picasso: Olga Picasso in a Mantilla

Picasso's family was alarmed he woild marry a foreigner, thus he painted Olga as a Spanish girl in his painting "Olga Khokhlova in Mantilla" to convince his parents for their blessing, and his idea worked. Olga became Picasso's first wife. They married in the Russian Orthodox church in Paris in 1918 and lived a life of conflict. Olga's Russian bourgeois social connections ((her father was a General to the Russian Tsar Nickolas II) caused Picasso's social work and life to change. With his marriage to Olga in 1918 Picasso entered into what his friend Max Jacob called his "epoque des duchesses" ("Epoch of Duchesses"). Picasso shed his espadrilles and overalls and starting wearing bespoke suits instead . He discarded and estranged old companions from his early days in Paris, and lost his closest friend, Guillaume Apollinaire Picasso joined the heady world of high society in Paris. Picasso's friends could not understand why he paid attention to Olga, a common dancer and not in the least a remarkable person as many contemporaries admitted. The kind of life Picasso was living next to Olga was demanding. They were too different: Picasso's bohemian lifestyle, love for freedom and passion for women conflicted Olga's desiire to lead life in high society and the model marriage.

Picasso: Portrait of Olga in the Armchair

Their marriage collapsed and they finally separated in 1935 but never divorced. Olga Picasso and she remained his official wife until her death in 1955. Together they had a son, Paulo, who together with Olga formed a series of subject matter for Picasso's paintings. They were mainly portraits of Olga in different styles and manneras: "Portrait of Olga in the Armchair" (one of the most famous) 1917 year "Olga Kokhlova a la mantille" 1917 year, "Portrait de femme au col d`hermine (Olga)" 1917, "Portrait of Olga Picasso" 1922 - 1923 year, "Olga Picasso" 1923 year, "Tete de femme (Olga Kokhlova)" 1935 year . He painted her much, in a realistic manner, on which Olga insisted, she did not like experiments in painting. "I want to recognize my own face", she said.

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