Although Pablo Picasso never visited the United States, the U.S. government kept an extensive secret dossier on him for 27 years because it considered him a possible subversive, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Both the FBI and the State Department kept track of the Spanish-born artist, monitoring what he wrote, said and signed, his whereabouts and his affiliations, the Times reported.The newspaper said the FBI still maintains a Picasso file, although the artist died 17 years ago at the age of 91. Picasso spent most of his life in France.

The documents show that U.S. officials worried about the effect Picasso, who joined the French Communist Party in 1944, might have on public opinion in the United States, the newspaper said.

The article was written by Herbert Mitgang, whose book ``Dangerous Dossiers' examined the FBI's practice of keeping files on leading writers living in the United States, including Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and John Steinbeck.

Mitgang said he obtained the Picasso files 2 1/2 years ago after requesting them under the Freedom of Information Act. He said some pages in the files were withheld and others had paragraphs blacked out.

The FBI labeled Picasso as a ``Security Matter - C' (for Communist) and as a possible ``Subversive,' the newspaper said.

It said FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover initially took notice of Picasso when the artist wrote a statement in 1944 titled ``Why I Became a Communist,' in which he wrote, ``My joining the Communist Party is a logical step in my life, my work, and gives them meaning.'

Additions to the Picasso file grew smaller in the 1960s, but his name appeared in FBI references up to 1971, the newspaper said.

Mitgang said that to find out more about Picasso's politics, he spoke to a friend of the artist, Dominique Desanti, who was active in the French Resistance.

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