cover image Picasso the Foreigner: An Artist in France, 1900–1973

Picasso the Foreigner: An Artist in France, 1900–1973

Annie Cohen-Solal, trans. from the French Sam Taylor. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35 (624p) ISBN 978-0-374-23123-1

Art historian Cohen-Solal (Mark Rothko: Towards the Light in the Chapel) examines in this revelatory biography how Spanish artist Pablo Picasso rebelled against the repressive, anti-immigrant French government to become a world treasure. After moving to France as a young artist in 1900, Picasso was surveilled and harassed by police for “not being French” during rising political tensions. On a larger scale, the French state, Cohen-Solal writes, viewed Picasso with suspicion and disdain because he was a foreigner, political provocateur, and a Communist, and refused “out of a desire for ‘purity’” to purchase or exhibit his work even as he became famous worldwide. Three years after creating Guernica in 1937 (a protest against fascism and brutality), Picasso was denied French citizenship, and never again applied. Meanwhile, as fascism spread across Spain and the French remained cold to the artist, Picasso transformed into “the archetype of the politically engaged artist.” Though Cohen-Solal’s meticulous research can be repetitive, her learned assessment of Picasso’s artistic and political affairs lands as timely and deeply considered. Art and cultural history aficionados will find much to savor. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Agency. (Mar.)