Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

36
THE MASTER OF MOUGINS
1963-1965

Unlike la Californie, and even more unlike Vauvenargues, the mas of Notre-Dame-de-Vie, where Picasso spent the last years of his life, was a neutral place. The view was its single resource, but one of abundant presence. The sitting room where Picasso received visitors, read his mail, and watched television, and the three studios—two facing east, the third, west—all looked down, over olive trees, at Cannes bay. Picasso had at hand work and materials for every aspect of his artistry. A full range of his sculptures and materials for making them were kept in one of the big downstairs rooms; ceramics, tapestries, and items from his own collection were stored or on display throughout the house, with paintings and smaller sculptures in a studio at the back. In short, every inch of space was put to use.

During this last move Picasso's feelings about his own past had undergone something of a change. As a first step, he unrolled and framed a series of pictures leading up to les Demoiselles d'Avignon, some of them previously unknown to the public. And he renewed his acquaintance—resumed possession, so to speak—of pictures he had kept or bought back. Although previously he had refused to concern himself with his own past, remarking that "un artiste ne doit rien se vendre" (by which he meant that an artist should not lean on his own successes), he now gave Zervos free access to all of his notebooks, so that he could photograph them. In 1963 I was astonished by his response when I told him that an editor had commissioned me to write his biography. He said that there were many points which still needed to be made, that a great many others which had been made were wrong, and that he would help me. He showed me the Casagemas suicide paintings, which at that point no outsider had seen, and some of the "blue" paintings hanging in the sitting room, which we would photograph in 1965 for the catalogue of his early work.

These revelations did not imply any censorship of the kind suspected in the case of les Demoiselles d'Avignon drawings published by Zervos after Picasso's death. The point was simply that at the time Pablo hadn't wanted any of his new and current work disturbed or slowed down by inevitable

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