Pablo Picasso makes an appearance on Piccadilly Circus' giant digital ad board

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

To promote an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts until April 13th, the digital ad board at Landsec's Picadilly Lights digital is displaying a 30-minute documentary about Pablo Piccaso. 

For 30 minutes at the start of Thursday evening’s rush-hour, an excerpt from 'Le Mystère Picasso' dominated the iconic Piccadilly Circus screen, bringing Picasso's creative spirit to life.

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 and comes 47 years after the artist's death. The Piccadilly Lights are operated by Ocean Outdoor.

Derek Manns, Landsec’s Commercial Media Manager, said: “It’s a privilege to be able to broadcast this exclusive film featuring one of the world’s most influential artists. 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. 

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.

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