Picasso -- by the Man Who Knew Him Best
Byline: Richard Godwin
AS HIS biographer, Sir John Richardson's life has been marked by Pablo Picasso. When I meet the newly knighted 88-year-old at the Ritz shortly before the opening of Tate Britain's new Picasso exhibition, his principal regret is that he didn't allow his actual body to be marked by "the greatest artist of the 20th century".
"Picasso was very cross when I came back from America and I had a new tattoo here," Richardson gestures to his right arm where a faded mark is visible. "He said: 'I would have tattooed you!'" Richardson is dressed soberly but the fluorescent Paul Smith socks suggest a flamboyant spirit. He speaks with animation and precision remarkable for a man of his age. His eyes, he tells me, are "gone", requiring monthly injections, and his short-term memory is fading. However, when he recalls the days when he lived in the South of France with his lover, the collector and scholar Douglas Cooper, and Picasso and Jean Cocteau were regular house guests, his memories animate figures who, for most of us, remain abstractions, superlatives.
Apparently Picasso had always hoped to do a Cubist still life on someone's back. He was about to do one on Georges Braque in Paris, in fact, but the First World War intervened. It was perhaps Picasso's preference for the DIY …
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Publication information: Article title: Picasso -- by the Man Who Knew Him Best. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Evening Standard (London, England). Publication date: February 17, 2012. Page number: 22. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
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