Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

11
THE REVOLUTION OF PAPIERS COLLÉS
Autumn 1912-Summer 1913

The most fruitful and revolutionary of the exchanges between Picasso and Braque took place in 1912. The stenciled letters of Braque's Portugais had led to the return of color with Ripolin and then to the first collage, Picasso's Nature morte à la chaise cannée. Braque replied with paper sculptures, sandings, and the invention of papier collé. Each then needed a period of work in isolation. Braque once again was in no hurry to return to Paris; when he did, he left almost immediately for Le Havre. Montmartre was now forbidden territory for Picasso because of Fernande. He could not go to see Braque, and it seems that Braque very rarely made his way to Montparnasse.

The contrast that autumn of 1912 between the laboratory calm of Picasso's new studio, 242 boulevard Raspail, and the tumult in the external world of painting in Paris was extreme. Certainly anxiety about the outcome of these experiments, pursuing an entirely unfamiliar route, was no longer a factor, as it most emphatically had been in 1910 and the beginning of 1911. Picasso's stock at Kahnweiler's gallery included a great many successful canvases. Tchukhin, who had stopped buying after the forward surge of Cadaquès, came back that summer at Kahnweiler's urging and had insisted on buying—for ten thousand francs, an enormous sum for the time—a large still life of 1908 that Picasso had not really wanted to sell. 1 The picture was probably Composition à la tête de mort, a souvenir of Wiegels' suicide, which would explain why Picasso was reluctant to let it go.

The Salon d'Automne was "making even more noise," Braque wrote to Kahnweiler from Sorgues "than the din of Saint Polycarp" (which, in Montmartre, means noisy revels during a move intended to create a diversion behind the landlord's back). This was not—as with Manet's Déjeuner sur l'herbe or his Olympia—because of any specific picture or pictures. Apollinaire, who visited the show before the opening, notes: "This year there isn't that sense of battlefield, as there was in 1907 and 1908, and again last year. Matisse, Van Dongen, Friesz accepted because of public acclaim, occupy the places of honor in the rooms where they were hung." What

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