The October Twins: Pablo Picasso and André Salmon

The October Twins: Pablo Picasso and André Salmon
When the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso revolutionized art in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, his friend André Salmon, a young French poet, turned to art criticism in order to promote the new avant-garde movements. While Salmon’s reputation as an art critic increased, he used his leverage to bring attention to his pal. In some cases, it bordered on the absurd, but Salmon didn’t care. His loyalty to Picasso never wavered, even during the period Picasso refused to acknowledge their friendship. Salmon was born in Paris on October 4, 1881, three weeks before Pablo Picasso, who was born in Malaga on October 25th. The two friends met in Picasso’s ramshackle, pest-infected Bateau Lavoir studio (destroyed by fire in May 1970 and reconstructed in 1978). The date remains in question but was probably during the early winter of 1904-5. Their mutual friend, the Spanish sculptor Manuel Hugué, known as Manolo, commandeered Salmon to Picasso’s studio/home late one evening. Salmon returned the following day and almost every day afterward, moving into the building in 1907. He met the poet/art critic Max Jacob at the doorway just before that second visit, and the two, along with poet/art critic Guillaume Apollinaire established the “rendezvous des poètes,” scribbled above the door by Picasso himself. Apollinaire knew Salmon since 1903, when the two poets founded the short-lived literary magazine Le Festin d’Esope (November 1903- August 1904). Picasso met Apollinaire in February 1905 at the bar Austin Fox. André Salmon, Portrait of Pablo Picasso, 1908 Musée Picasso. Copyright: Salmon Estate Louis Marcoussis, The Three Poets: Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, André Salmon, 1929 Photo (C) Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jacqueline Hyde Public Domain

Lead photo credit : Salmon and Picasso in Sanary, 1957, photographed by Hélène Parmelin, At the villa “Les Restanques,” rented by Hélène and her husband painter Édouard Pignon Rights of Reproduction: Jacqueline Gojard.

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Beth S. Gersh-Nešić, Ph.D. is an art historian and the director of the New York Arts Exchange, an arts education service that offers tours and lectures in the New York tristate area. She specializes in the study of Cubism and has published on the art criticism of Apollinaire’s close friend, poet/art critic/journalist André Salmon. She teaches art history at Mercy College in Westchester, New York. She published a book with French poet/literary critic Jean-Luc Pouliquen called "Transatlantic Conversation: About Poetry and Art." Her most recent book is a translation and annotation of "Pablo Picasso, André Salmon and 'Young French Painting,'" with an introduction by Jacqueline Gojard.