cover image Pablo


Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie. Abrams/SelfMadeHero, $27.50 (344p) ISBN 978-1-906838-94-2

French documentary filmmaker Birmant and artist Oubrerie (Aya of Yop City) tell the story of Picasso through the magic of memory and symbolism. The narrator/storyteller is Fernande Olivier, Picasso’s muse and the subject of more than 60 of his paintings. Though Pablo is the book’s title, the story is very much told from Fernande’s perspective. Cursive lettering in the narrative captions symbolize Fernande’s perspective and her magical-realist/symbolic view. When she remembers her “elegant, distant, fragrant” mother, we see a talking bottle of perfume; her “man of the world” and moneyed father is a disembodied top hat. Fernande’s frustrations with her lot in life—being a stoic woman trapped in an abusive marriage—lead her to change her name and run off to Paris, where she encounters Picasso, his art rival Henri Matisse, and the birth of the 20th-century art world. Her story is a romance and a biography, as well as a portrait of an era reminiscent of From Hell, but told from a female perspective. (Apr.)