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Picasso and His Friends Hardcover – 1965
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The author writes a very straightforward description of young Picasso and the people who comprised Picasso's Gang. She does this through sixty short chapters most of which are only two or three pages long. She does a good job of short, pithy word portraits of the many people who surrounded Picasso. The book is also illustrated with many sketches including some of her own, and photographs of those people and places. The visuals and text do a marvelous job of complimenting each other to form a better portrait of the subjects.
I particularly loved the picture of The "Bateau-Lavoir", 13 Rue de Ravignan where Picasso lived and worked from 1904 to 1909. Its no wonder so many starving artists lived in the area, the place looks exactly like the slum it had become at that period. Its amazing that so many great works of art came from that early 20th Century Camelot of Art that was the Left-Bank of Paris at the time. The book's back cover is illustrated with an oil painting of four people and a dog by Marie Laurencin. It includes her self-portrait, her lover Apollinaire and Picasso and Fernande plus one pet pooch.
Naturally the volume is peppered with insights that only someone as intimate as she was with Picasso would know. For instance, Picasso always carried a pistol and was not afraid to use it. If the street were too crowded on his way home and he wanted to be alone, he'd some times clear the street by firing a few shots into the air. "He rarely spoke during meals; sometimes he would utter not one word from beginning to end. He seemed to be bored, when he was, in fact, absorbed" (with thinking about his current project).
Picasso "had a wallet with all his notes (money) in it, which he could not bring himself to leave at home. He kept the wallet in an inside pocket of his coat: and to make it safer he fastened the top of the pocket firmly with a huge safety pin. Every time he had to take out a note he would undo the pin as unobtrusively as he could."
Picasso "has never really lived for anything else but his art. This rather sad, sarcastic man, with his tendency towards hypochondria, has not so much consoled himself--for he seemed always to be weighted down by some great sorrow--as forgotten himself in his work, and his love for it."
Fernande describes when Picasso was waked up by the police and taken to court to explain his part in the possession of some stolen statues from the Louvre. That's fascinating. Picasso was so shaken by the experience that he'd never again take the bus that he and the police used to travel to the court from his studio. This is a short, easy to read memoir about Picasso and his friends and dealers. It's a must for Picasso fans!