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Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man Paperback – December 1, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mailer's opinionated and heavily illustrated biography of the early years of the legendary painter.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Not just another book about Picasso or another book by Mailer but a book about Picasso by Mailer-worth a look at least. Alas, the end result of a work germinating since 1962 appears to be more a portrait of Picasso as a young Mailer than an examination of the innovative and enigmatic artist. The relationship of Picasso and Fernande Olivier is seen by Mailer as the definitive impetus of the artist's early period of incredible productivity and imagery. By quoting at great length from Olivier and Picasso's contemporaries Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein, Mailer offers a guide through what he sees as the crucial relationships and friendships of the period. The interpretive biography-claiming "no original scholarship"-may have its own virtues, but here little is added to the literature of art history, and the perspective, so filtered through the sensibility of the author, must be weighed as just that. "No man ever loved and hated women more"-Picasso or Mailer.
--Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Warner Books ed edition (December 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446672661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446672665
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Much has been made of Pablo Picasso's huge ego, but never more so than here, where it would seem that only Norman Mailer's considerable esteem for himself could give Picasso's a run for his money. Yet, that having been said, I still give this book a 4 star rating ... after all, what could be more interesting than the self-absorbed genius writer presuming to reveal the inner thoughts of the equally self-absorbed artistic genius, Picasso?
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Format: Hardcover
A good read. Mailer brings Picasso to life. Hard to put down.

I am re-reading this after a couple of years and I am remembering why I enjoyed it so much. It is nice to read an interpretive biography that makes Picasso human as opposed reading dry, critical art history for a change.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book in an apartment in Florence, where i was staying for a couple days during a tour of Italy & Austria. The TV was broken, so i just picked up a random book that looked interesting. I hadn't read a book all the way through for a year or two, and wasn't planning on really reading this one either. After the first chapter, i could hardly put it down... The lady who owned the apartment let me borrow it for the rest of my trip, where i read the rest of it on trains and whatnot, and ended up thoroughly enjoying it. It is an extremely interesting and detailed book, which explores all of Picasso's adventures in Paris & Spain, his love life, and connects him to many interesting people, including some other popular artists of his time. Recommended reading for modern art fans..
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Format: Hardcover
Both blustering,rowdy boy geniuses...Both with their ups and downs with women. Mr. Mailer does his usual terrific job here,and admits a longtime obsession with the great artist. Anyone doubting Picasso's genius will have no doubts after reading this one. The author's descriptions of the great artist's youth leave one feeling that artistic genius is inevitable.From Spain to Paris,we are led on a jaunty trip.And he kept at it even into his nineties! In short,this must be among the classic special bios of perhaps the 20th century greatest artist!!
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Format: Hardcover
Art professionals clobbered Norman Mailer’s Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man when it was published in 1995, but the fact of the matter is that it is not without enjoyment for a more general reader. Mailer, ever the imp, has his fun, as when in writing of Picasso’s Blue Period (a time of actual depression, according to Mailer) ) he gives us this:

“His personal life during this period is not nearly so hopeless as the tone of his work, and is replete, as always, with contradictions. Art, even at the most demanding level, can on occasion free an artist of an obsession.Obviously his own mind was not always as stygian as his canvases down in the depths of the Blue. During the same season, he can offer us a pen-and-watercolor (reproduced in tMailer’s book) that is high-style in its smudges, and fine and hellish in its humor. There is menstrual blood in the bidet, and the whore is contemplating it with the same low-key woe that a musician might bestow upon a guitar that has just snapped a string.”

Mailer immediately follows that with this: “But let us not speak prematurely of all the guitars to come.”

More fun:

A chapter on the narcissism of Picasso and his early lover Fernande Olivier closes with this: “If this has seemed a diversion, let us recognize we are soon going to be immersed in a full company of narcissists. Some royal examples are in the wings.”

The following chapter then begins with this: “During the winter of 1904-1905, when Picasso was still wooing Fernande, another domain was opening. His friendship with Guillaume Appolinaire commenced. Then a few months after Fernande moved into his studio, Leo and Gertrude Stein entered his life. The long friendship between Picasso and Gertrude came alive.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Insightful, bold, well supported and researched conclusions. Beautifully written and illustrated. Very interesting extracts from Picasso's first love Fernande Oliver. Compelling linking of Picasso's life and his work.
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