Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

21
HYMN TO MARIE-THERESE
1931-1932

n the spring of 1970, in the most retired part of the mas of Notre‐ Dame-de-Vie, Picasso in my presence pulled from a heap of paintings Nature morte sur un guéridon (Still Life on a Pedestal Table), a canvas considerably taller than either of us. Dated 2 March 1931, the work is a powerful interlacing of black curves which project contrasting volumes in bright colors. "I said it myself to Barr, and he even wrote it: 'Here's a real still life,' " Picasso shouted behind me. I said, "It seems to me I can still see Marie-Thérèse." Picasso went and traced on the canvas with his finger, against the rhythms of the still life, which were practically unchanged, the curved outlines of Marie-Thérèse. He turned back to me and tapped me on the shoulder. "That's why I've always said to you, 'Here's a real still life!' " 1

On that day I realized the degree to which Surrealism had liberated Picasso and, if I might say, confirmed the power of inspiration. Since the blue period, through a succession of insurrections against academic realism and rationalism, he had "yielded" to inspiration, particularly since he began to draw on the primitives but often with a sense of infraction. Now he knew that the opposite was in fact true: that far from indulging in infractions, he was drawing on the true sources of art.

March 1931 was the moment at which Picasso separated himself from the cycle of anguish and violence and opened himself to lyricism and love; and his painting reveals the secret broached in his engravings. Figures au bord de la mer (Figures by the Sea) of 12 January, with heads like toothy vulvas, and Femme lançant une pierre (Woman Throwing a Stone) of 12 March still belong to the Olga cycle. Marie-Thérèse appears, three-quarter face, in Femme au fichu de dos (Woman in a Shawl from the Back) of 20 March and is present again at the end of April in Deux Femmes nues devant la fenêtre (Two Nude Women beside Window). 2La Lampe3 of 8 June proclaims possession of Boisgeloup, illuminating an imaginary bust of Pablo in front of the stable door.

Once again the summer at Juan-les-Pins radiated happiness. Pablo, as usual, drew his house. Then, taking up a drawing from the beginning of the year, he painted a sleeping Marie-Thérèse. Her profile stands out against a

-219-

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