Life of Picasso: Volume I

John Richardson, Author, Marilyn McCully, Author Random House (NY) $45 (1p) ISBN 978-0-394-53192-2
Remarkably intimate yet epic in sweep, this astonishing, continually engaging biography (first installment of a four-volume opus) neither glorifies Picasso nor paints him as an ogre. Richardson, who was the artist's close friend in France for a decade, attributes to Picasso's ``demonic Andalusian birthright'' his jolting oscillations between tenderness and cruelty, his self-dramatization, his harnessing of sexuality to his art. Like his much-maligned father, Jose Ruiz Blasco, an easy-going art teacher, Pablo, in Barcelona and Montmarte, was the star of a tertulia , a circle of cronies, who met regularly at a cafe to gossip and exchange views. As we watch the maternally overprotected prodigy transform himself into the daring, confident bohemian who took Paris by storm, Richardson ably untangles the skeinok of friendships and love affairs that Picasso transmuted into the personal mythology overflowing his canvases. Crammed with new insights, this synthesis weds an irresistible narrative to hundreds of wonderfully apposite photographs and art reproductions. It's one of the few books truly indispensable to understanding Picasso's artistic and spiritual growth. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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