Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

8
THE CORDÉE * WITH BRAQUE
1907-1908

The simple presence in his studio of an enormous canvas as unusual and apparently eccentric as les Demoiselles d'Avignon was in itself enough to precipitate Picasso's isolation. A belated recollection of Wilhelm Uhde's mistakenly places at the beginning of 1907 events which occurred during the summer: "I received a desperate note from Picasso asking me to come and see him immediately. He was tormenting himself for a new set of reasons. Vollard and Fénéon had come to his place and had left again without any understanding of what they'd seen." 1 We know that the same thing happened with Apollinaire, who brought Fénéon to the Bateau‐ Lavoir. Fénéon, it seems, told Picasso that he had a gift for caricature. Uhde arranged a visit by Kahnweiler (who had recently opened his gallery) but— as with the visit of Augustus John in the beginning of August 2—the reactions of strangers did not compensate for rejection by those on whom Picasso counted. "The studio on the rue Ravignan was no longer the 'rendez-vous des poètes,' " writes Salmon, 3 the only one to remain faithful. Fernande, as we know, had left.

One can easily imagine the impatience with which Picasso awaited the return of Leo and Gertrude Stein from Fiesole. Gertrude came back sometime between 2 and 7 September; 4 Leo was probably with her. Leo was appalled and spoke of a "horrible mess," or worse. Only Gertrude took Pablo's part: "The beginning of this struggle ... was discouraging, even for his most intimate friends, even for Guillaume Apollinaire.... I was alone at the time in understanding him." 5 This can be confirmed although she adds, "perhaps because I was expressing the same thing in literature." Gertrude has understood and is reporting here a notion which was for Picasso a source of encouragement throughout his life:

He who created a thing is forced to make it ugly. In the effort to create the intensity and the struggle to create this intensity, the result always

____________________
*
Cordée: Braque invented this conceit—mountain climbers linked by a shared rope—for a 1950 interview with Cahiers d'Art; a metaphor of his relationship with Picasso in 1907-8, at the dawn of Cubism.

-79-

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