Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

6
DECISIVE ENCOUNTERS
1906—Early 1907

Picasso had caught the attention of important critics like Félicien Fagus, Gustave Coquiot, and, above all, Charles Morice. And through Apollinaire he was included in convivial evenings at the Closerie des Lilas. 1 But he had kept within the confines of the Spanish colony and of the bohemian group at Bateau-Lavoir and, paradoxically, had not yet encountered any important artist of his generation. In a period of two months in the autumn of 1905, he was to break through his isolation and poverty and enter the avant-garde. By May 1906, when he left for Gosol, although his acquaintance with Derain and Matisse was still very fresh, he had nonetheless perceived the point of their more radical efforts and understood what they were aiming at. On his return to Paris, he felt that he could meet them on a level footing and quickly conceived the notion of surpassing their audacity—a resolve which produced les Demoiselles d'Avignon in 1907.

At this point in his development, Picasso overturned—with a speed which is uniquely his—the conceptions that had previously informed his work.

The initial event in the sequence was the third Salon d'Automne. Picasso had certainly visited the second of these—the Salon of 1904, still heavily influenced by pointillism—and found it dull. On the other hand, the uproar of the 1905 Cage aux Fauves was directly and immediately interesting to him as he had already—in 1901—anticipated these paintings of strident color. The green in the face of Femme au chapeau (Woman in a Hat)—the portrait of Mme Matisse which had provoked a kind of insurrection—suggested the use of green for Picasso's own self-portrait of 1901. But for him the true novelty was the Manet retrospective, which allowed him to survey the trajectory of that artist, the creator of Déjeuner sur l'herbe. And Ingres' Bain turc, sequestered for over forty years in inaccessible private collections, was a revelation.

As we have seen, Picasso used elements taken from Manet in his Famille de saltimbanques. The influence of Ingres, however, worked on him in a different way. After his death in 1867, Ingres was transformed by his

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