Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

19
THE METAMORPHOSES
1927 1929

At forty-five, Picasso had become a successful man. He was about to buy his first Hispano-Suiza, the automobile of kings, which would be driven by a liveried chauffeur. In June 1926 a retrospective of his work over the last twenty years was shown at the Paul Rosenberg Gallery. But these are the successes—a selective list, which excludes both his marital troubles and the aggressiveness of the constructions he kept for his Surrealist friends.

In France it was a period of great intellectual turmoil. A headlong pursuit of pleasure had failed to hide the fact that with victory the country had not regained its prewar position. Significantly, modern art was accepted only in the form of arts décoratifs, as demonstrated by the big exhibition of that name in 1925. Surrealism had run out of steam. The December issue of la Révolution surréaliste would not be followed by another for a year.

Yet a new kind of criticism and focus on modern art began in January 1926 with the first issue of Cahiers d'Art, a magazine started by Christian Zervos, a young Greek philosopher. He collected people interested in experimentation, like Élie Faure, Jean Cassou, and Tériade. He had strong and definite ideas on the future of art in general and Picasso in particular, which was very helpful to Picasso at this point. An article by Marius de Zayas, based on conversations with Picasso and published in the United States, had been translated by Florent Fels and published in Arts. However, there was another version making the rounds, a forgery, written in Russian and filled with inanities, which Jakulov published in the magazine Ogoniok as a "letter from Picasso." Since no one formally repudiated it, the piece would prove to have a tenacious life of its own.

At the end of 1926, Jean Cocteau's book Le Rappel à l'ordre returned to his Picasso of 1923 with additional material which shed new light on the crisis of 1919-20. Although he exaggerates his own influence, giving Parade too much credit for the transformations in Picasso's work, he nonetheless provides some valuable insights:

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