There are a number of museums around Spain specifically devoted to the works of Pablo Picasso, with their own unique monographic collections. Just recently the Museo Picasso-Colección Eugenio Arias in Buitrago de Lozoya (Madrid) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its opening.
The museum and its collection have a fascinating — and moving — story behind them. Eugenio Arias was Picasso’s barber and friend, and he put together this significant collection on the basis of the works given him by the artist during the twenty-six years of their friendship.
The two men got to know one another in Vallauris in the South of France, where Picasso began making ceramics in 1946 at the Madoura workshop. M. and Mme. Ramié, who owned the pottery, mentioned to Picasso that a Spanish exile had opened a barber’s in the little town, and the artist first visited Arias’s shop in 1948, the year which marks the real start of their friendship, although they had met before, briefly, in Toulouse in 1945.
The works that Picasso gave to Arias were all closely linked to their respective interests and the topics that continually cropped up in their conversations: bulls and bullfighting, politics, and the barber’s trade, in all a total of sixty drawings, ceramics, posters, prints and sculptures.
In the late 80s, when most of the collection was acquired by the Comunidad de Madrid, Eugenio Arias made it a condition of sale that the works were to be on permanent display in his home town of Buitrago de Lozoya. Today the museum that bears his name, managed by the Comunidad de Madrid, is housed on the ground floor of the Town Hall.