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Pablo Picasso Will Be the Subject of National Geographic’s ‘Genius’ Season 2

The Nat Geo limited series, executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, will shift its focus from science to art for its next installment.

Artist Pablo Picasso looks at a recent painting, "Portrait of a Woman," in his studio in Vallauris, French RivieraPicasso 1953, Vallauris, France


National Geographic has announced who its next “Genius” might be, and the choice moves the ongoing drama series from the world of science to art.

Following its well-received exploration into the life of Albert Einstein, Season 2 will dig into the complex life of artist Pablo Picasso. The artist, who lived from 1881 to 1973, is famed for his skewed looks at the world, which created not just a lifetime’s work of unforgettable art – but an entire movement that made us reassess what art could be.

READ MORE: ‘Genius’: Hear the Song That Foreshadowed Johnny Flynn’s Breakout Role as Young Einstein

“Genius” is executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the latter of whom directed the first episode of Season 1. Executive producer and showrunner Ken Biller will return for Season 2. Other executive producers include Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane from Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment.

There is no official word yet as to who will play Picasso, but in the first season of “Genius,” Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn played the older and younger versions of Einstein (respectively). Producers said they plan to court a similar level of talent for the next season.

Prior to “Genius,” on screen Picasso has been portrayed on screen about 40 times, with portrayers including Marcial Di Fonzo Bo in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” and Anthony Hopkins in the film “Surviving Picasso.”

Also, Picasso mingled with plenty of other historical figures of his time we might look forward to seeing depicted — from the official release:

His passionate nature and relentless creative drive were inextricably linked to his personal life, which included tumultuous marriages, numerous affairs and constantly shifting political and personal alliances. He lived most of his life in the vibrant Paris of the first half of the 20th Century and crossed paths with writers and artists including Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Gertrude Stein, Georges Braque, and Jean Cocteau.

“What we were looking for, as with Albert Einstein, was someone who saw the world in a completely different way,” Biller said during a conference call this morning tied to the announcement. “One in scientific realm and one in art realm. This is a declarative statement, that ‘Genius’ is not only about scientists, [but people] who are iconic figures in history who changed the world. Pablo Picasso came to mind among many figures for Season 2.”

Picasso was the first name the producers considered for the project, Biller said, and after discussing several names, “we circled back to that idea and felt that his story, which is rich and emotional and passionate and controversial, would not only allow us to expand the palette, but his life was so turbulent and interesting. It’s a fascinating story.”

367288 01: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Portrait of artist Pablo Picasso September 11, 1956 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Arnold Newman/Getty Images)

Howard said many men and women were considered for the project, and the producers used the success of depicting Albert Einstein’s life as a guide in finding a story subject with similar breadth.

“We wanted to try to live up to an achievement we were very proud of, with Einstein’s life, and we needed to know the drama was there,” Biller said. “Talking to friends, family, and kicking it around, his name stimulates curiosity in people. He’s famous, a household name, but you don’t really know the story of his life – how through the turbulence, he achieved artistic greatness in many ways and over many years.”

Biller said the producers considered a female subject for Season 2, and are “hoping to do a woman for Season 3.”

“Unfortunately the way history works, when you Google ‘geniuses’ online, history doesn’t remember a lot of [women],” Biller said. “The pool from them to choose is smaller. We explored ideas of people in science, politics, the arts. It’s a fun parlor game. There are probably very few people you could mention that we didn’t discuss on some level.”

Biller pointed out that although Season 1 was about Einstein, it spent time on the women characters surrounding him, including his first wife, physicist Mileva Maric.

“We did feel a responsibility to explore this other brilliant scientist we didn’t know, Mileva,” Biller said. “You’ll see also in Picasso’s story that there are many fascinating women in his life who inspired him and were artists in their own right. We will give them their due and explore what it was like to be a woman not only in that time but also in Picasso’s life.”

Given the subject matter, Howard said he expects to be able to play with visuals in Season 2. Like Season 1 of “Genius,” Season 2 will cover different stages of Picasso’s life and include two actors portraying the artist.

“We have no casting in mind yet but we’re hoping to attract that same level of talent to the project,” Biller said.

Biller defended the idea of portraying Einstein’s sexuality. “The idea of seeing Einstein with his pants down wasn’t designed for titillation,” he said. “One of the truths of Einstein is that most of the world didn’t know about was he had many sexual relationships. He was not faithful to his wife. He had an unorthodox view of sexuality and monogamy. If we were going to spend ten hours exploring character, the audience wouldn’t be interested in watching him at a blackboard for ten hours.”

“We’re in heavy development of the show,” he added. “We have some of the same writers from the first season, and some new ones. Our intention is to be in production before the end of this year in the fall.”

The Season 1 finale of “Genius” aired Tuesday, June 20. The 10-episode second season is expected to air in Spring 2018.

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