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Picasso and Dora: A Personal Memoir Hardcover – April, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Lord's memoir reflects on Paris, Dora Maar, and the larger-than-life Pablo Picasso. Author of two books on his friend Alberto Giacometti, Lord supplies a tantalizing stream of prose built on his journals, coaxing the reader into his vivid recollections of Paris under the occupation and Paris after the war. He paints an unflattering portrait of the great artist, while revealing his own relationship with Dora, Picasso's mistress. Picasso and Dora are not the whole subject of the story, however; Lord is really the main character. His impressions, homosexuality, and life are just as much the subject as Picasso and Dora. And his probing the mystery of Dora, though insistent, finally uncovers more mystery, although it may shed some light on an assortment of friends and acquaintances who are mentioned but given no real substance. Those interested in Picasso, Paris, and modern art will want to read this book. -- Ellen Bates, New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

An intricate and intimate view of Picasso's aloof mistress and model Dora Maar, by onetime-companion Lord (Giacometti, 1985, etc.). An American soldier in Paris in 1944, Lord seeks out Picasso and requests that the artist draw his portrait. Picasso takes Lord to lunch with Maar--the first encounter in what evolves into the author's infatuation with the muse. Maar and her role in Picasso's genius fascinate Lord, who toys with the idea of himself being a ``figment'' of Picasso's ``creative imagination.'' From the fall of 1953 into the spring of 1954, when Maar is 46 and Lord 31, the two have dinner almost every night and spend weeks together away from Paris. Lord claims constant enchantment: ``being with Dora...was the be-all and end-all of thinking as well as of feeling.'' And later: ``I never ceased to be under the spell of her beauty, the lambent gleam of her gaze, the bird-of-paradise voice...all the aura of tense serenity and power and pathos so poignantly portrayed by Picasso.'' Yet the pair's bond is defined by Lord's homosexuality (``seeking promiscuous oblivion in the embraces of boys''). At night, Maar and Lord separate with a ritual kiss, the writer constantly pondering the model's expectations. Lord's narrative, based on a journal, contains countless backstage details--from Picasso's insults at a party given by the collector Douglas Cooper to Dora's attachment to a cigarette lighter that had ``cost'' the artist ``a visit to the Place Vendome.'' But of deeper interest than these anecdotes is a long, climactic letter in which Lord finally denounces his and Maar's unequal roles and the pride, selfishness, and avarice that, he says, isolate Maar--who still lives in Paris, in the same apartment where they so often sat. An account memorable in its frankness about a ``friendship'' that was extraordinary but flawed--not least because of the friends' shared obsession with ``the monarch of twentieth-century art.'' (Illustrations--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T); 1st edition (April 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374232083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374232085
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
Picasso & Dora is the story of a friendship, but not that of Picasso and Dora. Rather it is the story of the friendship of the author and the mysterious Dora Maar. Both these characters are fascinating personalities, as they move in close and then distance themselves. The fact that Lord is a gay man in love, in his own way, with Dora adds a complexity and richness to the story. It is reminsicent of Isherwood and Sally Bowles and Capote and Holly Golightly. There is a special poignancy to the story of a gay man who loves a woman, yet cannot offer her the love she really wants. Lord writes exceptionally well and Dora, who died just recently at an advanced age, lives on in his words.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By drkhimxz on April 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James Lord is quite good at handling the autobiographical recounting of his relationship to significant others. Assuming you have an interest in the private Picasso and one of his most important mistresses, I can recommend the book highly. In it, he moves us quickly to the time in his World War 2 experience in which, still in uniform, he intrudes himself upon Picasso, who had spent the War in France, no more than slightly harassed by the Germans. The narrative continues into the early post-war years in which he, a young homosexual man, finds acceptance by Picasso, over a period of time and occasional visits. To him, these meetings are a cherished association with one of the Great Artists. Just why Picasso allows the association, Lord ultimately can only speculate upon. From Picasso, he moves the story to his meeting and formation of a friendship with Dora Maar , never involving sexual fulfillment, (which he finds only with fellow males) . Ultimately, his removal to the United States for an extended period terminates the close relationship.
In his customary manner, Lord is personal, intimate and clear in his writing, relying heavily on detailed notes he compiled throughout the period. He explores, as best he can, his own thoughts and impulses, and those of the varied members of the artistic elite and its hangers on with whom he comes in contact. I would call it a form of novelistic non-fiction.
For those who have no particular interest in these two loci of attention, the book might well become tedious.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SandyWells on March 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Grrrrrrrr! Picasso didn't know how to love anybody Dora stated. A compelling love story between a man who was an artist and a woman who was not only a photographer but a painter. She is very sensitive and grows very quiet in her later years, a recluse almost. And she said she never forgot about him.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Zver on September 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent on all counts!
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