Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview
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INTRODUCTION

his edition differs considerably from the French edition of 1986. It was inspired by two events of primary importance which I was fortunate enough to experience personally: the Demoiselles d'Avignon exhibition at the Musée Picasso in Paris and "Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. These led to the revision of many previously accepted ideas and considerably modified our understanding of Picasso's youthful work. In addition, record prices at public sales inspired many collectors to put previously unavailable pictures on the market. Study of these dispelled several mysteries, for example, Picasso's part in the Venice Biennale of 1905. The number of serious publications on the subject of Picasso also increased dramatically, disclosing gaps and errors previously enshrined by tradition.

In 1986 I was the first to establish that the separation of Fernande and Picasso coincided with the painting of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. No one at that time knew that she had written an intimate memoir, which— confirming some of my hypotheses—modified our understanding of their private life and its effect on Picasso's art. In addition, the publication of Patricia Leighton's book Re-ordering the Universe: Picasso and Anarchism, 1897-19141 showed me that the political and social history of Spain and Europe was far less familiar to the American public than to the French. I have tried to bear this in mind while writing this book, benefiting from some twenty-five years of political conversation with Picasso.

In 1977 I attempted a first reconstruction of his creative itinerary, made necessary by access after his death to his notebooks and to work in his studio. Now, with this book, I have tried to make a synthesis between that itinerary—once again, considerably altered, even deepened—and the facts not only of his private life but of the intellectual life of the twentieth century, in which Picasso was simultaneously actor, witness, and didactic explorer.

As Gertrude Stein observed: "Matisse and all the others saw the twentieth century with their eyes, but they saw the reality of the nineteenth century. Picasso was the only one in painting who saw the twentieth century

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