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ISBN-13: 9780810991149
Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date: 09/28/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 552
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.50(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.