The Glory Years: Picasso and the Minotaur

The Glory Years: Picasso and the Minotaur
He was born in a big white house in Malaga, Spain in 1881. He lived there until his father accepted a teaching position in Barcelona. Here he studied painting, hung out at the Quatro Gats and at 19, decided to travel to Paris with his friend Carlos Casagemas. He was attracted by French art and one can see a Lautrec quality to the work he did in Barcelona. In Paris beginning in 1901, he lived at 130, Boulevard de Clichy in a tiny apartment with a blue room which he painted. He moved often as he was very poor. He lived for a while at 57, rue de la Seine and at 39, rue des Saints Pères and Boulevard Voltaire with his poet friend, Max Jacob. They shared a bed and a hat while one worked at night and the other by day. They were happy years for Picasso and he fondly remembered the omelettes and Brie. But his most famous residence was at 13, rue Ravignan in Montmartre at the Bateau Lavoire. It was damp, dirty, and dilapidated. He moved there in 1904 and, soon after met Fernande Olivier who moved in with him. Here, in 1905-6, he painted the portrait of Gertrude Stein in his tiny, unheated broken down, so-called studio. The poet and writer, Guillaume Apollinaire and the painter Georges Braque came into his life at that time. His painting of Les Demoiselles D’Avingnon (1907) was reluctantly accepted. Braque said,”It is as though you want us to eat rope and drink gasoline.” Another artist said, “One day they will find Picasso hanged behind that picture.” It was the beginning of a new phase in art which led to Cubism. In 1912 he moved to 5 bis, rue Schoelcher with Marcelle Humbert, whom he called Eva because she was “the first woman” for him. They traveled to Sorgues-sur l’Ouvèze in a tiny ugly villa, ‘Les Clochettes’. He sketched on the white walls and later took the stones from the wallt to bring them back to Paris to preserve his sketches. When Eva died, he took a tiny house in Montrouge. Then in 1917 he accepted to work on a surrealistic play called ‘Parade’ and he moved, with Cocteau, Eric Satie and the Ballet Russes to Rome. Here he met the ballerina Olga Koklova, a Russian General’s daughter who he married in 1918. They took a two story apartment on rue de la Boétie near the Russian church where that had been married on rue Daru. The witnesses were Apollinaire, Cocteau and Max Jacob. Apollinaire died of influenza on Armistice Day November 11, 1918. Picasso became a client of Paul Rosenberg’s whose studio office was nearby on the Faubourg Saint Honoré. Picasso, Olga, and their son Claude took a spacious villa in Fontainebleau. The marriage was coming to an end and Picasso was now involved in Surrealism and Dadaism. He even tried his hand at writing and showed his work to Gertrude Stein. She read his efforts while he paced the floor. When she was done, she walked over to Pablo, placed her hands on his shoulders and said, “Picasso, go home and paint.” This and his failing marriage depressed him but he soon met the beautiful , blond, athletic Marie-Thérèse Walter and he set her up in his apartment near rue la Boétie. Later, in 1930, he bought a 17th Century manor outside Paris at Boisgeloup. His daughter with Marie-Thérèse was born and they called her Maia. Picasso continued to write. He wanted to ‘paint poems and write pictures.’ He did paint Minotaurs ravaging women. By 1936 he was involved with the painter-photographer Dora Maar and moved into a studio on rue des Grands-Augustins on the left back near the Seine River. She lived nearby. Here, he painted the Guernica, his anti-Fascist tribute to a bombed Spanish village. At this time he settled into a large 17th century house in Mougins, in the south of France. There, he entertained Paul Elouard, his wife and Man Ray. During the War, Nazi officers came to see Picasso’s studio. He would hand out postcards of the Guernica. “Did you do this?” they would ask. “No,” he replied. “You did.” He and Dora had been living in Royan, on the coast but Picasso returned to Paris to make sure his studio and paintings were intact. By the middle of the war he had painted Dora Maar’s strong features, hundreds of times. He would spend evenings with friends at a bar called Le Catalan in his honor. He was now doing lithographs of mythical fauns, centaurs, and Minotaurs and by 1948 he was living with Francoiþe Gilot at La Galloise near Vallauris. When he asked her to move in with him she said that she was living with her grandmother who was old and needed her. “I’m older than your grandmother,” he had answered. “I need you too.” They had Claude and Paloma and then separated. He was now living at La Californie north of Cannes with Jacqueline Roque who was 27 when they met. Picasso was 70. He then bought the Chateau of Vauvenargues in the shadow of Cezanne’s mountain. He also bought a more reasonably sized chateau near Mougins at Notre-Dame-de-Vie. It was there, as a married man, that he ended his years with Jacqueline. The burial in April 1973 was at Vauvenargues, in the garden near his beloved mountain. None of his illegitimate children were allowed to come to the funeral. The man who saw himself as a Minotaur lies secluded where nobody can see his grave. NOTE: PICASSO HAD STUDIOS OR RESIDENCES AT Delcros in Céret, near Versailles at Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, La Galloise near Vallauris and a studio on Boulevard Raspail. Recommended Reading:Viva Picasso, David Douglas Duncan, The Viking Press, New York,…
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