10 thoughts on “A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years: 1917-1932

  1. Charles Bechtel Charles Bechtel says:

    One does not read this book, one lives with it, and does so in the manner of having to live with an intelligent, proud, once actively engaged but now pass artist uncle The text is huge in understanding, so illuminating as to be blinding, but in the end wearying in its digressions providing the necessary scaffolding to understand the monumental artistry of Picasso It will take weeks to slough off the effects of this comprehensive, comprehending uncle whatever I shall think will be have to be One does not read this book, one lives with it, and does so in the manner of having to live with an intelligent, proud, once actively engaged but now pass artist uncle The text is huge in understanding, so illuminating as to be blinding, but in the end wearying in its digressions providing the necessary scaffolding to understand the monumental artistry of Picasso It will take weeks to slough off the effects of this comprehensive, comprehending uncle whatever I shall think will be have to be run through the funnel of Picasso s visionoften than I d like I will see even sleeping cats as Picassos.Imagine sitting through an entire semester of Calculus IV complete with the expectation that you have an insiders view of Wave Theory in one week It is that intense Richardson does, especially in the concluding third of the book, manage to enter the complex mind of Pablo Picasso Riding with Richardson, one gets the sense that the artist is not so difficult to perceive, but as far beyond the grasp as Quantum Mechanics.No student of painting should overlook this book, but no student should read it This is a book that should only be read by people who already have spent time grappling with what occurs at the end of the brush It would be too influential, too corrupting, for an unformed student Reading it, one may find and even encounter the Minotaur, but there is not string leading one back out into daylight Go instead to Patrick O Brian s reminiscence He has the string Once you ve learned the passages, then attempt this.As for why not five stars Because there are so many references to paintings that are not included cost that I found it necessary to read with Google always searching the Internet If you have am I pad, keep it charged Except for this, Richardson s is an astonishing addition to any painter s library


  2. AC AC says:

    Not nearly as interesting, either from the artistic point of view, nor from the gossipy though that is the strength here as the first two volumes Richardson was 83 when the book came out, and we still await vol 4.


  3. James Murphy James Murphy says:

    This is rich, grand biography It s the 3d volume of Richardson s monumental biography of the iconic artist As well as being satisfyingly detailed about Picasso himself, Richardson, in relating the course of the life, has to necessarily explain those around Picasso and the events linking them So it all becomes a big, glorious telling But Richardson isn t all surface narrative This is critical biography by an incisive art expert and analyst More, as a friend of Picasso s his understanding wo This is rich, grand biography It s the 3d volume of Richardson s monumental biography of the iconic artist As well as being satisfyingly detailed about Picasso himself, Richardson, in relating the course of the life, has to necessarily explain those around Picasso and the events linking them So it all becomes a big, glorious telling But Richardson isn t all surface narrative This is critical biography by an incisive art expert and analyst More, as a friend of Picasso s his understanding worms deeply under the artist s skin and into his psyche These are the years 1917 to 1932 of Olga the wife and Marie Therese the young mistress Richardson s thorough discussion of the individual works is especially interesting in its gloss on how these two women affected his art That alone is worth the read Richardson understands how Picasso made what he did, and why Recently I read something about Richardson being concerned he might not finish his biography I think he s now in his 80s The next volume, I understand, is to be the last It must be going to be a real whopper because when this 3d volume leaves Picasso he has 41 years left to live We know that many artistic triumphs are ahead, especially the influence of the Spanish Civil War, the impact of which was apparently considerable We know that much romantic turmoil is ahead We know that Richardson will tell it well


  4. Randall Wallace Randall Wallace says:

    Picasso believed that only supreme graphic mastery could enable an artist to break every conceivable rule and, if he wanted to, draw as badly that is to say as instinctively as he liked When Picasso does any pointillism, it is in fact to create fake surfaces such as wood or marble As Kenneth Clark wrote, the nude remains our chief link with the classic disciplines Picasso draws nudes posing on a beach with tiny heads and huge feet, images from his childhood dreams this leads to Picasso believed that only supreme graphic mastery could enable an artist to break every conceivable rule and, if he wanted to, draw as badly that is to say as instinctively as he liked When Picasso does any pointillism, it is in fact to create fake surfaces such as wood or marble As Kenneth Clark wrote, the nude remains our chief link with the classic disciplines Picasso draws nudes posing on a beach with tiny heads and huge feet, images from his childhood dreams this leads to his extraordinary plays of proportion and surreal juxtapositions This volume goes into both Picasso s Volumetric Classicism and Surrealism Periods Of the later, John says Picasso s penchant for dismemberment and reattachment he loved displacing things to put eyes between the legs, or sex organs on the face To contradict I want to paint like a blind man, who does a buttock by feel This is Volume Three, the Diaghilev Olga years, where many pages are about Diaghilev s troubles or Olga, who gives Picasso a son or their many vacations somewhere in the sun


  5. Randy Lowe Randy Lowe says:

    Of the three, this volume was the least gripping and revelatory for me Not just because it chronicles his deep dive into the monied, bourgeois lifestyle that came during these years, but because this seems to accentuate a subtle catty, score settling tone in a lot of Richardson s anecdotes This has been evident in the previous volumes, for sure, but maybe because of the distance that Richardson had on those early years kept the stories lively and inciteful Here, he knew or had very intimate 2 Of the three, this volume was the least gripping and revelatory for me Not just because it chronicles his deep dive into the monied, bourgeois lifestyle that came during these years, but because this seems to accentuate a subtle catty, score settling tone in a lot of Richardson s anecdotes This has been evident in the previous volumes, for sure, but maybe because of the distance that Richardson had on those early years kept the stories lively and inciteful Here, he knew or had very intimate 2nd hand confidences with the players and he descends into what feels like gossip and even petty slander at times That being said, I admit that there is certainly a chance he s correct, and that this content isn t in its way a perfect reflection of the tedious tone of Picasso s chauffeured, nouveau riche life Full of bloat and sleazy promiscuity and hundreds of pages of ballet The work, at times, felt like it was getting edged out by the melodrama and parlor intrigue But, these are small criticisms of what is an unshakably monumental read And the advent of Picasso as sculptor was just about as breathtaking as Richardson s safe cracking of Cubism It is tragic if the last volume is as brief and unfinished as I have heard rud and that this might be essentially be the end of this telling


  6. Tom Tom says:

    A great achievement Of course this is an indispensable book and I highly recommend it I have already praised the first two volumes and this third one does not disappoint A final volume is said to have been finished before Richardson s death, but as far as I can tell it has not yet been published in spite of an announcement that it would come out last year Maybe later this year in time for Christmas.


  7. Rick Rick says:

    From the end of World War I and Picasso s continued exploration of cubism, his engagement with Diaghilev and other pioneers of modernism in dance and theatre, his marriage of the modern with the classical, and his revolutionary work as a sculptor, volume three of Richardson s comprehenisve biography of Picasso is as rewarding as each of the first two volumes There is also Picasso s marriage to Olga Khokhlova, his legal battles with dealers who lost control of their stock of Picasso s work becau From the end of World War I and Picasso s continued exploration of cubism, his engagement with Diaghilev and other pioneers of modernism in dance and theatre, his marriage of the modern with the classical, and his revolutionary work as a sculptor, volume three of Richardson s comprehenisve biography of Picasso is as rewarding as each of the first two volumes There is also Picasso s marriage to Olga Khokhlova, his legal battles with dealers who lost control of their stock of Picasso s work because of the war and later with a pair of perhaps conmen who secured possession of Picasso s early work from his mother and uncle, and his relationship with Marie Therese Walter, the 17 and half year old model, muse, mistress whose relationship with the artist dominates the second half of the period covered in this volume Picasso lives a kind of dual life in this period, established artist and wealthy man about Paris and the Riviera, and avant garde artist, resistent to all groups and controls and answerable only to his own artistic sensibility In one he attends balls with Olga and is chauffeured around in an extravagent car In the other he designs radical ballet sets and costumes, confounds his dealers who wantharlequins, resists the dogmatic pull of schools of surrealism, and finds himself still contesting with Matisse, his one true rival, and longing for the former partnership with Braque Clive Bell, the Fitzgeralds, Hemingways, Breton, Chanel, Gerald and Sara Murphy, Stravinsky, and many others make their appearances As do many of those from the first two volumes, though Apollinaire and Diaghilev do not survive the volume As it ends, the Spanish Civil War, which will politicize Picasso, looms Richardon is once again brilliant, particularly in his understanding of Picasso s work, and entertaining with his wry way with the personal and professional gossip poor Cocteau While he is no apologist for Picasso, the man, he has less of a grip on him than he does Picasso, the artist He is never fully convincing in his portrayals of Picasso s character and motives in his personal relationships, the paradox of generosity and cruelty that manifests itself, for example What, beyond a desire to marry, animated his long relationship with Olga He does reinforce the official debunking of the myth that Picasso started his relationship with Marie Therese when she was 15 with a certain crusty dismissiveness but otherwise he seems willing to let the record stand that Picasso was brilliant and charming but also selfish, cruel, superstitious, and petty But it s not Picasso s humanity or lack of it that compels our attention, it s his creative genuis, his artwork And that Richardson has a very firm grip on I ve since read in recent articles associated with Richardson s curating of the late period Picasso show at a Chelsea gallery that the next volume is to be the last one, a startling bit of news given how much is left to Picasso s life and career Near the end of volume three Picasso turns 50 which leaves four decades to squeeze into that final volume Don t know how Richardson will manage but he certainly has the knowledge, the perspective, and the clarity of prose to pull some sort of coherent synthesis, but still I m betting that we re really looking at two, not one,volumes to come in this essential work of biography


  8. GK Stritch GK Stritch says:

    Rich indeed, Mr Richardson, incredibly rich I would like to live like a pauper with lots of money Picasso, p 385


  9. Chrissy Chrissy says:

    This book is so well researched that Richardson could have made it boring and too heavy, but luckily he is an excellent writer art historian who perfectly weaves hilarious stories in with expert analysis and new approaches to in famous works by Picasso The stories and letters feature Picasso dueling with the surrealists and Appollinaire s supporters and dealing with his beau monde wife Olga gallavanting along with famous others like Stravinsky and Coco Chanel The paintings and sculptures ar This book is so well researched that Richardson could have made it boring and too heavy, but luckily he is an excellent writer art historian who perfectly weaves hilarious stories in with expert analysis and new approaches to in famous works by Picasso The stories and letters feature Picasso dueling with the surrealists and Appollinaire s supporters and dealing with his beau monde wife Olga gallavanting along with famous others like Stravinsky and Coco Chanel The paintings and sculptures are well explored, as they made me flip back and forth between the text and the pictures so much.My favorite bit was just how much all the artists of the period were intertwined the Murphys became the Divers in F Scott s This Side of Paradise but the Divers ended up being a closer parallel to the author and his drunko wife I can t wait to read the first two volumes to getof Picasso s bohemian roots I loved him before but this definitely helped.You don t have to be an art person to appreciate this read, but you might want to enjoy the 1920s as this book is 500 pages long


  10. Bookmarks Magazine Bookmarks Magazine says:

    John Richardson was introduced to Picasso in the 1950s, and that firsthand knowledge of the man and his work buttresses the third volume of this monumental study Richardson exhibits not only a stunning grasp of the artist s profession, including the iconography, languages, and influences, but also an understanding of how Picasso s private life informed his art The result is a rare balance of first rate art criticism and a primer on the energy and chaos that define the modern Michael Dirda com John Richardson was introduced to Picasso in the 1950s, and that firsthand knowledge of the man and his work buttresses the third volume of this monumental study Richardson exhibits not only a stunning grasp of the artist s profession, including the iconography, languages, and influences, but also an understanding of how Picasso s private life informed his art The result is a rare balance of first rate art criticism and a primer on the energy and chaos that define the modern Michael Dirda compares the author s vision to theacademic work of E H Gombrich and Kenneth Clark, concluding that, in a good way, Richardson s tell all biography reads something like a high brow gossip column Stay tuned for the fourth, and final, volume.This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.


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