Today Pablo Picasso is rarely out of the news.
Tickets must be booked long in advance for the brilliantly refurbished Picasso Museum in Paris and his works command surreal prices at auction.
(Last year a version of his Women of Algiers set a new world record when it sold at Christie’s in New York for $179m.)
We hear rather less of Charles Chaplin: the last time his hat and cane were sold at auction they raised a mere $40,000.
But if in 1952 we had been invited to nominate two world-famous artistic geniuses still active and thriving – whom we would have liked to find together in the same room – Chaplin and Picasso might well have fitted the bill.
But while Chaplin’s early silent films were still shown and adored across the world – Picasso’s fame at that time was more problematic.
Already he was sought-after by museums and collectors but the public regarded him with suspicion or hostility – too modern – too ugly – too in-your-face – as the master of Cubism somersaulted from one baffling style to the next.
And while both he and Chaplin had lauded Stalin’s Russia – Picasso had recently been condemned by Moscow’s academicians and museum curators as ‘formalistic’ ‘decadent’ ‘bourgeois’ and ‘anti-human’.
His blood boiled silently while his celebrated Dove of Peace extended its wings from Moscow to Peking.