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Author Biography: Bernice Rose is a notable American curator and the celebrated author of many books including Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein, Drawing is Form: The Drawings of Joseph Beuys, Allegories of Modernism, and Jackson Pollock. She is the curator of the exhibition "Pablo Picasso: Masterworks." She lives in New York.
Pablo Picasso, in his relations with friends and family, was always frank and straightforward. He lived and worked strongly, even violently, giving his family and friends support and affection.
His loyalty to those close to him reveals the importance he attributed to life, to understanding, and the ties that both hind and separate human beings. Throughout his life he never ceased to discuss his opinions with the thinkers and creators of his time. They expressed their conceptions of life, of modernity and politics, always seeking to defend their ideas and the freedom of expression essential to creativity. This commitment is expressed in certain of his own works. I also wish to add that, as on various occasions he gave moral and financial help to those close to him, the same is also true of the causes that he believed in. Later, by way of a conclusion, I intend to recount an anecdote and two stories which reveal Pablo Picasso's humanity and enable us to understand something of the feelings he shared with his friends.
However, first of all I want to explain why I find this exhibition, mounted at the Palazzo Reale, especially moving. In September 1953 an important exhibition dedicated to Pablo Picasso was held here in this same Palazzo Reale: among the works presented in the Sala delle Cariatidi was Guernica, a work that testifies to the atrocities of war. This emblematic work is an act against war: it reminds us that people must always be free to decide their own destiny democratically. In that period Guernica was displayed widely in many different countries.
It has taken forty-eight years for Picasso's works to return to Milan. This return gives me great pleasure, because the range of the exhibition means it includes certain exhibits that are essential if we are to interpret and analyze Picasso's work on different levels, so shedding light on its significance and on the various positions which the artist took up in the course of his life. The exhibits in this survey are arranged in chronological fashion to bring out the variety and power of Pablo Picasso's work and the ways in which he revolutionized artistic creation in his own lifetime.
In 1900 Picasso chose to leave Barcelona for Paris, where the artistic climate was propitious: there he developed new concepts and found new modes of artistic and aesthetic expression. The city, as well as his own feelings, combined with many other emotional factors in fostering his creativity. In 1902 he began his intense development.
The breakthrough, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, came in 1907. It formed part of the general upheaval at the start of the century and left its mark on the history of artistic innovations which recur in our civilization at key moments and correspond to the needs and expectations of society. Pablo Picasso was one of those responsible for the rejection of centuries of art founded on the effort to master the codes of perspective and representation.
Freeing modern artistic creativity from the shackles of theory, he gave an impulse to the evolution of artistic thought and created new methods of expression. In doing this he redefined the space of creativity and produced what is today called Cubism. However, in all the various phases of his life, Picasso continued to study and draw upon the works of the great masters of the past, which he revisited as the makers of all the earlier artistic revolutions. The present exhibition reflects this creative renewal and follows the succession of developments and innovations that distinguish Picasso's work. In particular, by painting Guernica, the Massacre in Korea, and The Dove of Peace, Picasso transfused a commitment to peace into his work. Now, in the present stage of my research, I feel I can describe him in this way: "Pablo Picasso a man and a painter." I am fortunate to belong to his family and to know personally the men and women whom he knew and who were close to him. Their memories matter deeply to me, as I attach the greatest importance to the search for all those hints embodied in the gestures of the artist and the man, which enable me to broaden and enrich my reflections on his art and life. And since the man interests me as much as the artist, here is an anecdote regarding the arrival of Guernica in Milan in 1953, as told by John Richardson. Then follows a little story which presents Picasso together with a young Spanish artist Appel.les Fenosa, in 1939, as told by Roberto Otero. And finally the photographer Andre Villers' memory of his first meeting with Pablo Picasso in 1953.
"Guernica" in Milan, as told by John Richardson
A few days before the opening of the 1953 Picasso exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, my friend Douglas Cooper and I sensed that the organizers were unaccountably nervous. Something had gone wrong, but they were keeping quiet about it. A former interrogator, Cooper soon nosed out the truth. On its journey from New York's Museum of Modern Art to Milan, Guernica, which was to be the clou of the show, had been slightly damaged as it passed through the Saint Gothard tunnel. The painting was being restored in great secrecy.
Back in France, Cooper and I went to see Picasso, who wanted a full account of the exhibition. "And Guernica," he asked slyly, "how did it look?" Before we could stammer out an answer, he roared with laughter, "thrilled," he said, "to hear that the eminent restorer who was repainting Leonardo's Last Supper was obliged to turn his attention to Guernica. "I hope it gave him some ideas!"
The Year's Most Important Exhibition, by Roberto Otero
In Spain, the Escuela de Paris is the name given to the group of young artists who lived in the French capital in the 1920s. Many of them practically produced their whole oeuvre in Paris, and some-like Francis Bores, Hernando Viñes, or Manuel Angeles Ortiz-lived there till the end of their lives. Other famous names of this generation were Antoni Clave, Joaquin Peinado, Julio Gonzalez and Oscar Dominguez. One of them, the Catalan sculptor Appelles Fenosa, was a close friend of Picasso's for fifty years, from 1923 till the painter's death. About a hundred of Fenosa's sculptures were found in Picasso's house at Mougins: he was by far the artist that Picasso collected most.
Fenosa returned to Spain in 1929 and lived there through the years of the Spanish Republic. When the civil war broke out he was in Barcelona. He spent the war years in Catalonia, where his activities included saving the artistic heritage, especially Romanesque altarpieces, and founding the Artists' Trade Union. At the war's end he succeeded in traversing the French border on foot and took refuge first at Limoges and then Versailles. When he reached Paris in September 1939, he at once went to visit Picasso.
As he was walking toward rue La Boëtie, Fenosa thought of the stories he would soon be able to tell his friend, who would certainly he passionately interested: the dramatic downfall of the Republic-especially the last days in Barcelona, waiting for the arrival of Franco's troops-and the long mass march to the French border, which had to be crossed on foot, and his miraculous escape from interment in a refugee camp. Lastly he would tell the story of how he had escaped and arrived in Limoges, where friends had hidden him in their home.
Picasso greeted him in the living room of his studio home on rue La Boëtie, hut he showed no particular interest in his stories from war-torn Spain. After the usual embraces he exclaimed all at once, in a slightly theatrical tone: "You've arrived just in time come along to an exhibition that's opening today. You'll see, it's sure to be the show of the year ..."
Fenosa could not help thinking that his friend had become a monster of selfishness. Was it possible he cared nothing for his feelings or those of the defeated Spanish people? All he was interested in was the success of his latest exhibition!
"But first we'll celebrate! Sabartes, bring a bottle of Jerez [sherry]! Unless you prefer some red wine, like in the old days ..."
This proof of his old friend's insensibility made Fenosa even more uneasy. "How could he have painted Guernica?" he wondered. "All he cares about is his own immense ego."
"And now, Sabartes, let's have a look at the big exhibition," continued Picasso.
Sabartes opened the doors leading to the next room, where they saw numerous tables laden with sculptures by Fenosa that Picasso had bought in recent years from various Parisian galleries. With them he had now placed some he already owned, for Picasso had been collecting Fenosa's work ever since buying the first four pieces carved by the sculptor in 1923.
Fenosa's indignation was swept away in a great wave of gratitude.
He now understood his friend's playful kindness and knew he could now spend hours or weeks telling him, as he had planned, all about the last days of the Second Republic. He hugged his friend, with the tears running down his cheeks. Picasso, also deeply moved, told him gently, as they embraced: "Remember to call in at the such-and-such a gallery and such-and-such a gallery. They've got money for you ..."
This story circulated among the members of the Escuela de Paris, together with many others testifying to Picasso's generosity to his Spanish friends and colleagues. I heard it from Manolo Angeles Ortiz and Rafael Alherti. Manolo Angeles Ortiz still jealously preserved, fifty years later, the counterfoil of a postal order he had received from Picasso in the refugee camp of Argeles, while Rafael Alberti always recalled that it was Picasso who got him his first job in his exile as a speaker with Radio Mondiale in Paris.
Passages from "Photobiographie" by Andre Villers
After being mad about soccer and then going through the war with its privations, in 1946 I began to feel unwell: the diagnosis was acute osseous decalcification. Early in 1947 I was put in a plaster cast up to the neck and taken to a sanatorium near Vallauris in south-east France. There, thanks to the sun, grafts and careful treatment, by 1951 I learned to walk again. When I was first allowed to take short trips outside the hospital I would go to Vallauris, the nearest town. I spent eight years at that clinic, five of them bed-ridden.
In the sanatorium in 1947, I developed a passion for jazz, kindled by listening to Armstrong, Ellington, and Parker on an old gramophone with an amplifier horn. Discs were rare and it took over twenty years before we were to hear the recordings made by King Oliver! The friend who shared my room, Marcel Portalier, was immensely intelligent: he was very knowledge' able about poetry as well as being a musician and taught me a lot. In those years, thanks to his help, I was able to pick up a lot of ideas about life, both in general and in detail. It was Marcel that introduced me to fine jazz-that's the great debt I owe to him-but when I later met Picasso I realized he had one blind spot, painting. He knew almost nothing about it. Self-taught till then ... true: but what a lot of time wasted! Thanks, my dear belated teachers.
In 1952, when I had just begun walking again, I took photography courses organized in the sanatorium. My first photos, since I had no landscape available except the walls of the clinic, were aerodynamic shots of the building, portraits of happy faces (it's only in such places that people know how to laugh), images of hilarious decalcified patients, black-and-white photos strangely dominated by green. The photos were an immediate success and so-I would say nowadays-no good at all. Under the guidance of my photography teacher, Pierre Astoux, I prepared the developers, fixatives and other reagents-toners, faders, intensifiers, etc. I was envious of the results attained by a member of the Photocluh from Cannes, one Monsieur Dutrieux, a grocer at Place Vauban and an amateur photographer. His prints, though conceptually uninteresting, had an extraordinary plastic quality which I have never seen since. Certainly an excellent chemist, he printed on a normal emulsion yet managed to get, with the paper of the day, Lumiere paper if I'm not mistaken, the whole range from pure white to pure black passing through grey.
Pierre Astoux and I wanted to identify the developer he used. As a reducer he used paraphenylenediamine. My hands were covered with brown blotches, the results were excellent, but they fell far short of Dutrieux's work. I added sugar to give the liquid more body, make it slower, and I made great play with the medium yellow filter ... I often wonder whether Weston's prints-I've only seen them in reproductions-had the same plastic quality as Dutrieux's. I sometimes get worked up about obtaining good prints. But it's not my principal concern. The smudges of paint on some of Picasso's paintings taught me not to be too fussy, not to waste time with formal perfection hut to move on to something else.
In March 1953 I discovered painting and the first painter I ever photographed-what a coup!-was Picasso. Years later he said: "I brought you into the world!" Later there were meetings-and photos-with Prevert, Leger, Arp, Chagall, Calder, Magnelli, Ernst, Dali, and all the others, right down to the present, because the list is still growing.
So, that same March, I saw Picasso quite by chance at Vallauris. It was a potter who pointed him out to me. At that time I had no thought of photographing him: The people I mixed with called him the madman of Vallauris, someone to steer clear of. I've told the story of my first encounter with Picasso hundreds of times, but new images, new and more definite memories of that moment, surface in my mind every day. The film of life, it seems, unwinds and shows all over again with greater precision the important events, the ones that were important then.
Before meeting Picasso I had already made some progress in photography and I used to dream about taking part in exhibitions. Pablo certainly didn't distract me from photography (he had a lot of respect for the art practiced by Capa, Milly, Brassaï and others). As for me, I felt the importance of painting, above all his work, which revealed all the faces of its subject, whether a body or object. I always get on well with painters and writers; but the work of photographers, except for a few, always dissatisfied me because they ignored the history of art and never went beyond rehashing earlier work or stammering. A waste of time.
In 1953, while I was still in the Vallauris helio-marine clinic, I didn't have a camera of my own. I used a Rolleiflex belonging to Pierre Astoux or sometimes borrowed one from my roommate. I bought my first camera in a junk shop at Cannes.
Excerpted from Picasso by Bernice Rose` Copyright © 2001 by Electra, Milan . Excerpted by permission.
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|Pablo Picasso: Man and Artist||19|
|Pablo Picasso: The World as Artifact||27|
|Picasso's Sculpture: The Unstable Self||121|
|Notes on Picasso's Designs for Parade||133|
|List of Works||355|