A Day with Picasso Hardcover – September 19, 1997
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A Day with Picasso also contains a detailed précis of Cocteau's work, some contextual background about the subjects and their relationships to one another, and some sample drawings from the artists whose relaxed camaraderie is so vividly captured in these intriguing photographs.
—John Richardson, author of A Life of Picasso
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This is an amazing book, as much for the ten-plus years it took to sleuth this story out as for the fact that anyone did it at all. The author, once he went to extraordinary lengths to collect these photos, even consulted the French Bureau of Longitudes to analyze the shadows in the pictures, in order to fix the time of day.
So, what do we have? Pictures of Picasso as a man in his mid-thirties (with a full head of hair!), in cafes and on the street with other artists, notably Modigliani and Kisling, and his then current amour, and other acquaintances. They cheerfully pose and mug for their friend Cocteau. And that's it, really. The text relates the story of how these photos were taken, and how the author discovered when, where, and by whom they were taken.
As if that wasn't impressive enough, he then adds chapters which deduce what kind of camera Cocteau used, maps of the area with the camera angles plotted, and selections of drawings, diaries, and correspondence that illustrate one detail or other of the pictures. It's all very interesting, in a headache-inducing way--rather like contemplating a picture painted on a grain of rice. And all this for the sake of recovering a long-ago afternoon of bar-hopping! _Le recouvrement du temp perdu_, indeed.
The story also illustrates the marriage of Cocteau's bourgeous/fashion/aristocratic circles with the Montparnasse/Left bank artists...Picasso and Cocteau remained lifelong (though sometimes strained) friends, and this was during the early years of that relationship. The context of the story also brings in couturier of the day Paul Poiret (his home(!!) and adjacent gallery), and patroness Misia Sert, both of whom I loved learning more about after reading this book (Arthur Gold's Misia Sert is a GREAT read). Be sure to read the Notes when you read this book, they hold lots of great little nuggets of information, testament to Kluvers copious and detailed research.