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Picasso: Creator and Destroyer Hardcover – June, 1988

3.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Picasso's eight-year-old sister died of diphtheria, he decided God was evil but took her death as an omen that he should become a painter. Later, the youthful artist, rebelling against his father, left home for a few weeks and moved into a brothel. Impulsiveness, rebellion, guilt and sexual energy drove Picasso as he gave form to his inner demons. He wielded his art as a weapon, exacting vengeance for the wives and mistresses who died, went mad or committed suicide. Huffington, author of Maria Callas, has written an astonishing biography, a shocking portrait of a man driven by a compulsive need to destroy even as his creativity burst forth. Based on interviews and primary sources, this intriguing and exhausting book lifts the veil of secrecy surrounding Picasso's sexual and personal sadism, his compulsive fears and self-identification with Christ. First serial to the Atlantic; BOMC featured selection.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The life of Picasso contains rich material for an accomplished celebrity biographer. Huffington's literary credentials are appropriate, but this book too frequently shifts from insight to psychosexual patter. True, the artist's actions followed a Jekyll/Hyde spiral, culminating in alienation for many close to him. Yet despite her book's title, Huffington seizes chiefly on the dark side of genius; Picasso is examined in terms of his personal cruelties, with little offered to enlighten art history. Roland Penrose's biographies and Mary Mathews Gedo's Picasso: Art as Autobiography ( LJ 4/15/81) are better treatments. Still, because of its sensationalism this book will be sought by general readers in many public libraries. Paula A. Baxter, NYPL
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 558 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671454463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671454463
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Arianna Huffington is the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of fourteen books. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. In 2013, she was named to the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. In 2006, and again in 2011, she was named to the Time 100, Time Magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union. She serves on several boards, including EL PAÍS, PRISA, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Her 14th book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder will be published by Crown in March 2014.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Picasso" by Arianna Huffington is a very thorough book that can probably be skipped, except possibly by those with an intense interest in Picasso's personal life. For the rest of us it is sufficient to know that Picasso had no friends or family, just groupies (many of whom were family) throughout his life, and, to a person, he treated them despicably. For example, he usually had several women at a time who each worshiped him. He would play them off against each other, often openly and in public, seemingly in an attempt to provoke jealous rage, murder, depression, or suicide (he succeeded grandly at all except for murder, but his best friend took care of that one for him). He found ways to treat the male groupies with equal misery. But, soap operas should last thirty minutes at most. This book goes relentlessly on and on for 500 pages determined to prove that Picasso did not take one decent breath in his whole entire long life.At a certain point the reader begins to wonder that "thou dost protest too much." So then how did he come to be hailed as the genius of the 20th Century; as the man who showed us what our world really was or at least what it really looked like? The answer to this question is somewhat complex. The easiest part of it is that he was like a human camera. He could paint exactly what he saw as if he were a camera, and, he could paint any impression of what he saw, better than any human being alive. He was half way home on that talent alone, meaningless though it may have been. After all, if you can throw a ball better than anyone you are halfway home too. But Picasso's subject was, seemingly, important; one that intellectuals were interested in.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book is an intimate portrait of a tormented artist who was, in this one biographer's view, prevented from reaching the limit of his potential by his own bitterness.
Picasso was aware of his special talents at a young age. He was coddled by an indulgent mother who recognized his genius. Huffington believes the key to Picasso's art and its major flaws lies in his obsession with sexuality and his enrmous egotism. His many amours are chronicled by Huffington as they were chronicled by Picasso in his work. Picasso got a special charge out of his ability to change women: corrupting the innocent, under-age Maria-Theresa with sensuality and sadism; reducing the intellectual Dora Maar to a jealous hag; saddling the young artist Francoise Gilot with a heavy load of maternal and domestic chores.
Huffington thinks Picasso was a "time-bound" artist, unlike the ageless Shakespeare or Mozart. If her conclusion is right--it has understandably drawn fire from the artistic community--it may be because he suffered from the extremely autobiographical ambience of his era, with our modern tendency to burrow forever inward.
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By A Customer on November 8, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Picasso the legendary artist and symbol of the 20th century is systematically picked apart through interviews with those unfortunate enough to have known him. The sadism, brutality and cruelty juxtaposed with the artist of undeniable genius and creativity is a story of a man walking on the edge of insanity and insecurities throughout most of his life. The book is tedious in places with its highly detailed continued focus on all of the wronged lovers and abused friends, but it is after all a true story. The reader will often find him/herself simply outraged/shocked by Picasso's treatment of those who loved/cared for him and wonder why these intelligent and gifted beings would subject themselves to such horrible and continuing abuse.
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Format: Paperback
The " modernism " Picasso launched was basically the conception of the artist's oeuvre as a diary, albeit he probably, along with most qf the art establishment, would be outraged by this point of view. That was his most significant first; his development of form, merely a bi - product of his auto - biographical method. This book enables us to see clearly the connection between the man and the works, instead of the usual european way of clouding the timid author's confusion about a complex artist with politically correct aestheticism. Whether Picasso's works are all, they're hyped up to be, when considered as individual paintings, is for the individual to decide; this book is about the man Picasso, his life, and as such most refreshing.
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Format: Audio Cassette
I'd recommend only the first 2 or 3 hours of this set (15 90-minute tapes). The rest was pretty unrewarding, as it was almost entirely focused on convicting Picasso of having an acutely dysfunctional social life. The evidence was both overwhelming and tedious. I kept going only because I'd been teased in the first hours with a little insight into the artist's amazing mind, and I was hoping for more of it (especially some discussion of Picasso's treatment of hyperspacial dimensions). Had I known these tidbits would be so few and far between, I'd have given up half way.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the best honest book on Picasso I have read so far. It doesn't repeat the hack nonsense the numerous authors copy from one another. I was impressed by the end which expresses some doubt about Picasso's greatness. It is the only book I know of that reveals Picasso as an all around disgusting person. The research is impeccable.
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