Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

31
"A DETESTABLE SEASON IN HELL"
1951-1953

Since June 1951 the hot war in Korea had exacerbated the tensions of the Cold War. Picasso's life was governed by his work and by the joy he took in his two new children, especially now that Claude was old enough to register as an autonomous presence at la Galloise. But Picasso was nonetheless very much aware of external events. He designed a poster for the October meeting of the second Congress for Peace in Sheffield, England; the police, however, prevented his attendance. The poster—a dove in flight—equals in beauty the first dove, which was to circle the globe and receive the Pennell Memorial Medal from the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.

His ties to the Communist party were firmly established. Picasso had thought to put a bronze of Homme au mouton (Man with a Sheep) at the Château d'Antibes, but when that plan presented difficulties, he proposed giving it to the municipality of Vallauris. The town, however, found the offer disconcerting and accepted only under pressure from the French party directorate. As Picasso had asked, l'Homme au mouton was installed in the village square; but even though he said he would like children to be able to climb on it and dogs to piss, the plinth was a little too high. All the same, Laurent Casanova, representing the party, came to the inauguration to preside with all due pomp and to celebrate Picasso, who was made an honorary citizen of the town. A small, deconsecrated chapel was put at his disposal to decorate as he chose. And the PCF arranged for him to receive the Lenin Peace Prize in November.

But in October Maurice Thorez was stricken by a cerebral hemorrhage, an event which disrupted the possibilities of political harmony. Until then he had been protecting Picasso from the Soviet offensive against "decadent formalism." In November and December Humanité embarked on an unprecedented effort to ensure the success of Fougeron's new exhibition "Au Pays des Mines" (In the Country of Mines), to be held in Paris at the Bernheim-Jeune galleries.

None of this troubled Picasso. On 12 January he produced Fumées à Vallauris (Smoke at Vallauris), a handsome painting of the town penetrated

-304-

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