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Meet the man who brought Picasso to Palestine

A young curator's determination to bring a work of Picasso to Ramallah marked the decade in Middle Eastern art.
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RAMALLAH, West Bank — “Why shouldn’t Picasso go to Palestine?” Khaled Hourani, artist, curator and artistic director of a young gallery in Ramallah, asked himself a decade ago, as he was touring the Van Abbemuseum in the Dutch city of Eindhoven.

Why not indeed? The works of Pablo Picasso, the prolific Catalan painter, are displayed all around the world, including Palestine’s neighbors. But Ramallah, cut off from the rest of the world with checkpoints and sheer poverty, was no ordinary spot. Even if the political and diplomatic difficulties could be put aside, there was no museum in Palestine that would secure the physical conditions — security, humidity and funds required for insurance — for the painting Hourani had in mind — “Buste de Femme,” an oil painting created in 1943 worth $7.1 million.

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