Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview
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Autumn 1913-Summer 1914

In September 1913 Matisse sent Gertrude Stein a postcard with news which, had it been public, would have turned the art world of Paris upside down: "Picasso is a horseman, and we're making a horse together. Everyone is astounded." Gertrude, in fact, had already been given the news by a postcard from Picasso dated 29 August, which says that the project is under way in the Bois de Clamart. Other than Gertrude, only the socialist Marcel Sembat knew anything about it. (Sembat provided Matisse's most consistent French support.) Picasso was clearly disinclined to boast of this development, 1 not that he was particularly affected by the various Cubists who were using him against Matisse, but because the return to color and sensuality in his painting—which drew him closer to his elder—must have made him anxious. He felt obliged to question his own motives: Were his new moves in fact regression? An intellectual weakness which might compromise the gains of the last three or four years?

Picasso hadn't seen Matisse's fourth show—at Bernheim-Jeune's in April—because he had been in Céret. But he had certainly read the reviews in the press, including Apollinaire's. Nor had he looked at the large canvas Café Maure, which had already gone to Tchukhin's. However, he knew that Matisse had taken a turn toward painting which was less imitative, more abstract. He also knew that sculpture had been an important element in the show. Certainly for those who equate Cubism with the geometrization of the painters who showed at the Salons of 1911 and 1912, Matisse is not a Cubist. But to Picasso's eyes it was clear that a new convergence in their work was taking shape.

This was certainly equally important for both painters. As Alfred Barr has stressed, in that year—1913—Matisse and Picasso became the recognized leaders of modern painting throughout the world. Matisse was still ahead in Scandinavia, England, and the United States; but Picasso had overtaken and surpassed him in Russia, Germany, and, thanks to the Futurists, in Italy. 2 As I have shown in my Journal du cubisme, Matisse's turn toward compositions which were more structural, more geometric, was reaffirmed in 1914-15. Conversely, Picasso's consideration of a more


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