Picasso at twenty-five was famous in Paris, comfortably off by 1914, wealthy and internationally recognised six years later. He married a leading ballerina, Olga Khokhlova, in Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. It turned out badly. Two of his mistresses, Fernande Olivier and FranÇoise Gilot, wrote tell-all memoirs, which he did his best, unsuccessfully, to repress. At least two other mistresses, Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar, have attained independent fame through his manic and magic portraits of them. He became a communist during World War II but was hooted down by the party when he drew Uncle Joe as a mustachioed gallant. He died in 1973 at the age of ninety-one after a tumultuous final decade of work. John Richardson and Marilyn McCully are engaged in a multi-volume biography, which, after three substantial tomes, has brought the story up to 1933.
Turning point for the century’s presiding genius
Picasso and Truth
by T.J. Clark
Princeton University Press (Footprint), $67 hb, 329 pp, 9780691157412
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Patrick McCaughey is former Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford Connecticut, and the Yale Center for British Art. His most recent book is Strange Country: Why Australian Painting Matters (2014). His other works include Voyage and Landfall: The Art of Jan Senbergs (2006). He also edited Bert & Ned: The Correspondence of Albert Tucker and Sidney Nolan (2006). He writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and Australian Book Review. He lives and works on the banks of the Quinnipiac River in New Haven.
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