Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

20
RENEWAL OF SURREALISM
1929-1930

At the end of 1928 it was clear that Picasso's return to sculpture had been good for him. In his emotional life he had reached a kind of balance—a landing on the staircase. A great deal was now being written about him. There was Wilhelm Uhde's book, Picasso et la tradition française, as well as Picasso by André Level, another old friend from before the war. Level's book includes a lithograph of Visage, Marie-Thérèse's face—a highly provocative gesture. In l'Intransigeant of 26 November, Tériade describes a "Visit to Picasso." The artist, showing his guest some wire sculptures and his sketchbook for Métamorphoses, declares that he has never done a painting or drawing which does not reproduce exactly a vision of the world. "I would like, someday, to show my synthetic drawings beside the same subjects done classically. Then you would see my concern for precision."

Kahnweiler deeply regretted that he had sold nothing: the Depression was already taking its toll. But, as he said, "Picasso can wait." His young sister-in-law, Louise Leiris, was running the gallery. Michel, her poethusband, together with Georges Bataille, had begun a new review: Documents. The magazine would run an article on Alberto Giacometti, a newcomer to sculpture, whose Homme et femme, in its violence and abstraction, could have come from Picasso's sketchbook. A special issue of the magazine devoted to Picasso would be published in April 1930, following by exactly a month Aragon's praise of Picasso in la Peinture au défi (Painting as Defiance). In addition, the fecundity of Max Ernst and the innovations of Miró and André Masson had re-created a climate of discussion and novelty of a kind Picasso had not encountered since 1914. When confronted by new questions on the meaning of art, he surpassed himself. At such times he was at his most daring, going to the greatest lengths in what might be called his personal Surrealism.

Picasso was not trying to give form to the unconscious of dreams or fantasies—yet another category of subjects "external" to painting. What Picasso drew from Surrealist ideas was the liberty they gave to painting to express its own impulses, its capacity to transmute reality; its poetic. Which

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