Spanish painter, Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso, to us simply known as Picasso, does not stop making headlines, even almost 35 years after his death in 1973.
Earlier this week, his 1941 bronze sculpture ‘Tête de femme (Dora Maar)’ sold for $ 29,200,000, the highest price for any sculpture created by Picasso, ever. His 1968 painting, ‘Homme à la pipe’, sold for $ 16,800,000. Both auction results were achieved by Sotheby’s, New York. Picasso’s 1931 painting ‘La lampe’ received an offer of $ 21,000,000 but was not sold, as the amount offered was apparently deemed below Sotheby’s stipulated reserve. Christie’s, also in New York, sold Picasso’s exceptional 1955 painting ‘Femme accroupie au costume turc (Jacqueline)’ for $30,000,000, a week earlier.
Picasso’s 125th anniversary of his 1881 birthday was celebrated last year in Spain with two super-size exhibitions in Madrid, at the MNACRS and the Prado.
If you are more interested in the artist’s life and person rather than his value in a still buoyant art market, you will be pleased to hear that A Life of Pablo Picasso, Volume III: The Triumphant Years 1917-1932, has just been published, painstakingly researched and breathtakingly written by John Richardson, the British art historian. The biography is published in the USA by Random House, and in the UK by Cape.
The earlier volumes of this outstanding biography, I (The Prodigy, 1881-1906) and II (The Cubist Rebel, 1907-1916) had already been published in 1991 and 1997, respectively. Both volumes are now also published in paperback editions. All three volumes make extremely good reading on the genius of this great Spanish artist; the latest volume is no exception.
Although one cannot think of Picasso without his Spanish roots and formative years, it is no secret that his talent really came into its fullest expression after he moved to Paris, France, in 1904, not long before western art headed for the modern era.
No wonder the French consider Picasso as one of theirs; after all, he lived in France for near enough 70 years.
Those of us living in Spain can view plenty of original works of art by the exceptional Monsieur Picasso in the two Spanish museums baring the artist’s name, the Museo Picasso in Barcelona and the relatively new Museo Picasso in Málaga. In addition to these, we also have his Casa Natal (birth place), in Málaga, and the Reina Sofía MNACRS museum in Madrid, which has accumulated a vast collection of Picassos mainly in lieu of inheritance tax, plus the spectacular, gigantic 349 × 776 cm canvas, Guernica, Picasso’s masterpiece painting in response to the German air attack during the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso’s best output, however, seems to have found its home in France, in Paris to be precise. The Musée National Picasso in Paris proudly presents over 200 paintings, 158 sculptures, 88 ceramic pieces, some 1,500 drawings and over 1,600 etchings, amongst other treassures. A large proportion of the museum’s holdings were left to the French nation after Picasso’s last wife, Jacqueline Roque, died in 1986. The photo above, by David Douglas Duncan, shows her and Picasso on a canvas-signing day at Villa La Californie, dated ‘circa early 1960s’.
France also holds numerous works by the Málaga born artist at the Musée National Picasso in Vallauris, between Cannes and Antibes on the French Côte d’Azur, where mainly works from his period called La Guerre et la Paix are shown. In Antibes there is also the Musée Picasso d’Antibes at the old Château Grimaldi where Picasso was allowed to install his studio in 1946. 245 paintings are normally on permanent show there, however, the museum is currently closed for renovations.
For more information on the life and work of Monsieur Le Maître, you might want to consult the official Picasso website.
Seeing Picasso’s works some 50 to 100 years after their creation and reading about the artist’s inspiring life, his women and his antics, one understands the charisma of his personæ, the forceful energy behind his œuvre and the unique, relentless vitæ of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
The voluminous Picasso biography may be in for some unfortunate news. The exceptional biographer, John Richardson, has already spent the best part of the last 25 years dedicating himself to this, A Life of Pablo Picasso, and he has only published the third volume, thus arriving at the year 1932. Picasso was only 51 years old by then. There are still some 41 years remaining.
I understand that John Richardson himself is at the ripe old age of 83. It is quite probable that he will not manage to finish his ambitious project.
Let’s hope that another talented and dedicated, if not possessed, person will step up to fill in the missing pieces, perhaps in close collaboration with Mr. Richardson. Chances are that he or she may not even have met the man himself which of course might make all the difference. Oh, well.
For those of you who would like to see some original works of Picasso, here is a link to information about some upcoming exhibitions of the master’s creations, including places in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, the USA, Canada and Japan.