Portraits and Landscapes

During World War I Picasso, as a Spanish citizen, was exempt from service in the French army; he also preserved his personal independence during the occupation of France in World War II. He continued to work in Paris in the face of difficulties and dangers, displaying a truly Archimedean intrepidity. His perseverance did not fail to impress friend and foe alike, and lie fully deserved the special gallery he was granted in the Salon de la Libération, the Autumn Salon of 1944, where lie exhibited nearly eighty paintings. Picasso achieved this triumph not because he had been politically active, but because for years lie had deliberately fortified his status as an artist. His weapon in this struggle was, as he himself declared, a more disciplined art: "Very likely for the poet it is a time to write sonnets," he said, referring to that period.

"Documents" page 505

Note 27

Throughout the war years he continued to develop his formal ideas. But at the same time he became more dependent upon those aspects of nature and art with which he was familiar, thus gaining a firmer hold on reality. Just as he had turned to Buffon's Histoire naturelle during a personal crisis in 1936, during World War II he showed a greater interest than usual in portraits and landscapes. Thus his predilection for the motif of the small tomato plant on the window sill (page 257), which he painted a number of times in August 1944, just before the Liberation of Paris, suggests a sympathy with the unfailing life-forces of growing nature. This sympathy represents a reaction against the gloomy misgivings he had recorded in the expressive still life conpositions of the preceding years, such as the large Still Life with Bull's Skull of 1942 with its sonorous violet tones, or the Still Life with Blood Sausage of 1941, which shows a serving table in the restaurant Le Savoyard, and which is pervaded by somber grays (page 411). Raynal says of these pictures that in them Picasso's palette "has put on mourning."

Tomato Plant and Decanter page 257 Still Life with Tomato Plant Cl. Cat. 182

Still Life with Bull's Skull Cl. Cat. 161 Still Life with Blood Sausage page 411

During the Liberation of Paris, Picasso painted a number of naturalistic portraits, among them the water color of a young girl (page 238). In this context we shall briefly discuss his fundamental conception of the portrait, and we shall try to show that Picasso's art rests primarily

(p. 241) Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler 1910

-240-

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