Picasso lights up Piccadilly in rarely seen art film footage

Picasso PLS Feb-20-1

Forty-seven years after his death, remarkable documentary footage of the celebrated artist Pablo Picasso at work in his studio was broadcast on Landsec’s Piccadilly Lights in London.

Picasso at Piccadilly

Le Mystère Picasso was originally filmed in 1956 by the French director Henri-Georges Clouzot.

It received a cinematic release in France on May 18 1956; and went on to win the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in the same year.

This is the first time footage from the film has been shown on a digital out-of-home screen.

For 30 minutes at the start of Thursday (20 February) evening’s rush-hour, an excerpt dominated the iconic Piccadilly Circus screen, bringing Picasso’s creative spirit to life.

“It’s a privilege to be able to broadcast this exclusive film featuring one of the world’s most influential artists”, Landsec’s commercial media manager Derek Manns said.

“The Piccadilly Lights is at the centre of culture in the capital and this was a great experience for Londoners to enjoy.”

Le Mystère Picasso uses stop-action and time-lapse photography to capture Picasso at work.

Engenious technique

Employing an ingenious technique, Picasso drew on blank newsprint stretched on a frame, using new felt-tip pens imported from the United States, whose fluid, intensely-coloured inks could bleed through the porous paper without dripping.

Henri-Georges Clouzot filmed the drawings as they appeared clearly on the reverse side of the paper.

The lines and shapes that Picasso conjures appear as if by magic. It’s fascinating watching Picasso in the process of drawing and seeing the speed with which he constantly transforms an image. A bunch of flowers turn into a fish, morphs into a chicken, before transforming into the head of a faun.

Many of the drawings and paintings were subsequently destroyed which means they exist only on film. However, two of those that did survive have been specially restored for an exhibition. They are on view at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Picasso and Paper is at the Royal Academy of Arts until April 13 2020.

The Piccadilly Lights are operated by Ocean Outdoor on behalf of Landsec.