A Life of Picasso, Vol. 1: The Early Years, 1881-1906 by John RichardsonMy work is like a diary, Picasso once told John Richardson. To understand it, you have to see how it mirrors my life. Richardson, who lived near the artist in Provence for ten years and became a trusted friend, was able to observe and record this phenomenon at first hand. Later, Picassos widow continued to give Richardson access to the artists studios and storerooms. This close personal friendship and the privilege of working in hitherto inaccessible archives make Richardson uniquely qualified to write the artists life, rescuing his renown from sensationalist legend and specialist pleading and analyzing anew the traumas and obsessions that triggered his explosive genius.
Richardson is the first biographer to make sense of the myriad contradictions that leave so many statements about Picassos nature equally true in reverse. The artists ambivalence is one of the authors central themes. At last we are able to see how his courage and terror misogyny and tenderness, generosity and thrift, superstition and skepticism, cynicism and sentiment, are reflected in the conflicts and paradoxes in his work.
Richardsons eye is finely attuned to the complexities of Picassos art, and his extensive knowledge of cultural history enables him to show how Picasso plundered the art of the past, the imaginations of his poet friends, the beliefs of mystics and magi, to create a revolutionary new synthesis. The authors evocation of Picassos ferocious ego, demonic loves and hates and black fears is the more absorbing for its terse and lively prose and freedom from jargon.
This first volume of Richardsons prodigiously detailed and documented four-volume study takes Picasso to the age of twenty-five. It reveals how the adolescent Picasso struggled, through determination and study, to escape the shadow of his fathers artistic failures. It describes his precocious success in Barcelona and Paris and the period of rejection and despair that followed. We watch Picasso transform the prostitutes of the Saint-Lazare prison into Blue period madonnas and, later, the performers of the Montmartre circuses into Rose period harlequins. Volume I culminates in Picassos dawning perception of himself as the messiah of the modern movement.
Some nine hundred illustrations, many of them unfamiliar, enable the reader to follow Picassos mesmerizing development in images as well as words.
A cruel and vengeful god
John Richardson, the larger-than-life art historian whose multifarious career both shaped the postwar art scene as it developed and helped define it historically, has died at the age of The news was first reported by the Art Newspaper. Two more volumes have been put out since; a fourth is expected to follow, though a publication date has not yet been set. In , Richardson was asked what made his biography different from books on the painter. Richardson first encountered the artist around , after having started up a relationship with the collector and art historian Douglas Cooper. In Richardson approached the artist with a plan to do a book on his portraits.
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A Life of Picasso, Volume I: [John Richardson] on harryandrewmiller.com * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This first volume of the definitive four-volume .
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New York: Random House. Few biographies in the literature of art have aroused more expectation than the four intended volumes of "A Life of Picasso" by John Richardson. Though sometimes despaired of by those who were most impatient to read it, Mr. Richardson's Volume One turns out to have been worth the wait. A remarkable achievement on more than one count, it has the steady, unhurrying pace and the superabundance of detail that were the mark of biography in High Victorian days. It is warmed throughout by unforced private affection and by a veritable tumult of reminiscence. But neither hype nor adulation plays a part in it.
By far the biggest and most purposeful of very few surviving works by the infant Picasso shows a stocky, bearded Hercules. The figure clenches one fist and brandishes a small phallic club in the other. The drawing is dated , when the artist was nine. John Richardson's latest biographical instalment starts nearly three decades later, with a trip to Italy where the adult Picasso once again confronted Hercules, this time a muscle-bound stone colossus in the national museum, whose superhuman size made up for Picasso's shortness, and whose head - 'bowed down by the sheer weight of his legendary power' - became a template for Picasso's serial engravings of himself. What Richardson calls 'the eternal quest for gigantism' is the running theme of The Triumphant Years. The Farnese Hercules stands behind the massive sprawling sculptural figures that alternate on Picasso's canvases in the s with their concise and cryptic Cubist counterparts.
Richardson also worked as an industrial designer and as a reviewer for The New Observer. In , he moved to New York and organized a nine-gallery Picasso retrospective. Christie's then appointed him to open their U. In he joined New York gallery M. In he started devoting all his time to writing and working on his Picasso biography. When he was thirteen he became a boarder at Stowe school, where he admired the architecture and landscape and was taught something about the work of Picasso and other innovative painters. By and the outbreak of World War II he knew that he wanted to become an artist, and, a month short of seventeen, enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art at that time 'evacuated' to Oxford , where he became a friend of Geoffrey Bennison and James Bailey.