Ultimate Picasso

Ultimate Picasso

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by Brigitte Leal

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Of all the books on the man many consider the greatest genius of 20th-century art, this sumptuous work stands out as truly the "ultimate" Picasso. Not only does it cover in one volume all the periods of Pablo Picasso's long, incredibly versatile career—with exquisite reproductions of nearly every significant work he ever created—but the scholarship is

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Of all the books on the man many consider the greatest genius of 20th-century art, this sumptuous work stands out as truly the "ultimate" Picasso. Not only does it cover in one volume all the periods of Pablo Picasso's long, incredibly versatile career—with exquisite reproductions of nearly every significant work he ever created—but the scholarship is impeccable: each of the three authors is a leading authority on a particular period of Picasso's artistic evolution.

Brigitte Leal covers Picasso's formative years from 1881 through 1916, including his invention of Cubism with Georges Braque. Christine Piot explores the astonishingly fertile period from 1917 thorugh 1952. Marie-Laure Bernadac discusses the unabashed vigor of Picasso's later years, from 1953 until his death in 1973. Nearly 1,200 magnificent reproductions, 720 in full color, illustrate Picasso's breathtaking range of artistic expression.

Picasso once boasted that a book would ahve to be written to him every day to keep up with his creative surges. Perhaps. But for art lovers and students seeking just one book, The Ultimate Picasso is unsurpassed.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
For those who believe that enough books have been published on the master, consider Picasso's claim that a book would have to be written every day in order to encompass his innovations completely. Two catalogues raisonn s and one "ultimate" overview highlight this season's bounty of Picasso monographs. In the comprehensive catalog of Picasso's lithographic oeuvre, prints are presented as an important part of Picasso explorations from the time of his first lithograph in 1919. In the book's main text, Erich Franz (In Quest of the Absolute, Peter Blum, 1996) offers a convincing if brief examination of Picasso's personal affinity for printmaking. Franz emphasizes the visual processes we experience when taking in an image, pointing out that a "fundamental difference between the print and the drawing is that the print exhibits greater pictorial homogeneity." Indeed, Picasso was interested in our ability to "tell that the image has been applied to the paper as a whole, in a single motion--as a print." The catalog portion gathers the artist's 855 lithographs for the first time, offering most in quite large, full-color reproductions on heavy paper. The book concludes with an interview with lithographer and Picasso collaborator Henri Deschamps. A fine addition to large and medium art collections. Labeled a "well-kept secret" by Spies--Picasso wasn't officially recognized as a sculptor until the first retrospective in 1966--Picasso's sculptural body of work, like his painterly innovations, remains extraordinarily influential. His use of everyday materials and even refuse, the importance of the figure, and his affinity for what was considered folk art are hallmarks of his long engagement with the form. To coincide with the 2000 exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Spies revised the text of his 1971 book Picasso: Das Plastische Werk and combined it with an expanded version of the 1983 catalogue raisonn . The official 800-piece catalog is presented in small black-and-white images in the back of the book. But a wealth of large, fine color reproductions accompanies the analytical text, made up of nearly 60 essays examining topics ("Mask and Formal Variation") and individual pieces ("Seated Woman of 1902"). Spies's scholarship here is impeccable, drawing attention to the artist's highly experimental works. Essential for large art collections and recommended for medium art collections. The Ultimate Picasso aims to impress with its over 430 lavishly illustrated pages detailing the progress of his life and works. Picasso scholars Brigitte L al, Christine Piot, and Bernadac divide up his life in three sections. On the whole, the emphasis is squarely on painting, and even many major works are given but a small paragraph. The authors are striving for an accessible overview rather than detailed scholarship, and their comprehensiveness is impressive; readers of all levels will be rewarded. An enchanting photographic chronology of the artist's life, a detailed list of the 1185 illustrations, a rather dated bibliography, and a skimpy index round out the book. The goal of this volume appears to be to eliminate the need for shelves full of Picasso books, and small to medium general libraries in need of an up-to-date analysis will be satisfied with this offering. But even large general collections and art libraries will find this to be a useful addition.--Doug McClemont, New York Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A rich source of information by three eminent scholars, each with expertise in the early, middle, and late stages of the artist's career. Their essays detail events in Picasso's life and the circumstances surrounding the creation of his art, his influences, and world events. This lavish, handsome book contains more than 1200 reproductions, nearly 800 in full color. Young adults might especially enjoy the amazing freedom and variety of styles for inspiration in their own artistic creations and will find source material for research on one of the icons of our time.-Turid Teague, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Pablo Picasso's was one of the most innovative, experimental, prolific, influential, and controversial painters of the twentieth century. In The Ultimate Picasso, Brigitte Leal covers Picasso's formative years from 1881 through 1916 (including his invention of Cubism with Georges Braque). Christine Piot explores Picasso's productive period from 1917 through 1952. Marie-Laure Bernadac surveys the artistic vigor of Picasso's later years from 1953 until hi death in 1973. The Ultimate Picasso's informative, engaging text is profusely illustration with 1200 magnificent reproductions (720 in full color) document-ing Picasso's phenomenal range of artistic expression throughout his life. The Ultimate Picasso is an essential, core addition to any personal or academic art history collection, and is a very highly recommended "Memorial Fund" acquisition choice for community libraries.

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Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
11.75(w) x 12.25(h) x 1.75(d)

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Picasso's supremacy in his century cannot be contested, although one may, depending on one's taste, prefer other painters. Of the awe-inspiring group of artists of the twentieth century, Picasso was the only one whom the demanding poet Pierre Reverdy recognized and hailed as having genius, the power of a demiurge. Thanks to Picasso's long life, and to the scope and variety of his work, he is unquestionably one of the most prolific inventors of the history of forms. He once told me that a book would have to be written on him every day to keep up with his rhythm and his surges of creativity. This book, which has much to teach, offers a relatively large selection of works, which are reproduced with care and attentively explained, thus tracing his vast career, with all its diverse aspects and means of expression.

When Brassaï photographed Picasso's studios and homes, he had the opportunity to note the artist's reactions and record his comments. On December 6, 1943, Brassaï's invaluable records show that Picasso told him: "It will be an amusing picture, but it won't be a 'document.'... Do you know why? It's because you've moved my slippers.... I never put them away like this.... That is how you would do it, not I. Yet the way an artist arranges objects around him is as telling as his works. I like your photographs precisely because they are truthful.... The ones you took on rue La Boétie were like a blood sample; we can analyze and diagnose what I was at those moments.... Why do you think I date everything I do? It's because it isn't enough to know an artist's work. You also have to know when he made them, why, how, and under what circumstances. There will undoubtedly be a science one day -- maybe they'll call it 'the science of man' -- that will seek to understand man through the man-creator.... I often think about this science, and I intend to leave as much information as possible for posterity."

The extent of this documentation surfaced at Picasso's death. The core of his incredible estate, which took several years to inventory, fills the Picasso Museum in Paris, which also contains his immense archives, manuscripts, photographs, and letters. In the days when art and society were not antagonistic, the old masters did not hesitate to destroy preliminary studies, saving only finished compositions. Picasso belonged to a period of crisis and experimentation, and he took art to its extreme level....

It was only late in his life -- and with a select group of close friends -- that Picasso shared the decisive episode of his adolescence, an experience that points to his Spanish soul and dismisses any suspicion of disinterest, of which he has often been accused. In January 1895, while Picasso was living with his family in La Coruña, in Galicia, his youngest sister, Conchita, whom he adored, died of diphtheria. He was thirteen years old. His exceptional talent and his eventual vocation had already become evident, astounding everyone around him. Yet when his sister was sick, he swore that if she were cured, he would give up painting. In other words, he put his entire raison d'être at stake. Destiny did not grant his wish but sealed, with the drama of death, the absolute pact that united him with his destiny, with the unavoidable forces that filled him. From the very beginning, in order to maintain his health and his capacity to work, which completely absorbed him, he subjected himself to severe discipline. Max Jacob said admiringly: "His magnificent stoicism is reflected in his entire life, as well as in a character and spirit that I have never seen elsewhere."

--Jean Leymarie

Excerpted by permission of Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Copyright © 2000 by Ediciones Poligrafa, S.A. Works by Pablo Picasso copyright © Pablo Picasso VEGAP, Barcelona 2000.

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The Ultimate Picasso 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Perusing this book, one may discover sides of Picasso not often seen. Beautiful works in a nice format. What brings the level down, however, is the disturbing lack of care put into the binding. Coverboards should not flop and bend when a book is picked up (at least not a hardcover). For the price of this book, this should not be the case. So if you want a great collection of Picasso's imagery, this book'll do you, as long as you don't mind it falling apart after a couple of reads.