Spanish artist Pablo Picasso applied for French citizenship just before German troops invaded France in 1940, but was turned down because police saw him as a Communist sympathiser, a new exhibition shows.
Picasso’s brief letter of application, featuring his instantly recognisable signature, is the highlight of an exhibition of 40 years of police surveillance of the celebrated artist, which opened at the Paris Police Museum on Tuesday.
The records, among hundreds of files stolen by the Nazis during World War Two and seized by the Russians in 1945, lay in KGB vaults in Moscow for decades before being returned to France in 2000.
Claude Charlot, director of the Police Museum, said Picasso’s close friend and biographer Pierre Daix was stunned to discover the artist had applied for French naturalisation.
“It was a total surprise. Nobody knew,” he told Reuters.0