Picasso, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)




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I don't love Gertrude Stein, but this little book at least accomplishes what any book on an artist or writer should do: deepen your appreciation of and heighten your interest in the subject. The account of Picasso's life is unabashedly personal, and the main source of "information" is Stein's own relationship with Picasso, and her own judgements of his work and its meaning. The generalizations about European nations, the repeated claims that "it was only natural for Picasso to do X" because he was he was a Spaniard, the somewhat dismissive attitude towards other artists of the period--if you can just let this wash over you, take them as simply idiosyncratic musings, an offering of a perspective, then they will be, if not charming, at least tolerable. At any rate, I imagine these things are what make some people find Stein charming. The claim that, e.g., the 17th century had less reason than the 16th, and was therefore more splendid just strikes me as lazy and uninteresting. But anyway back to Stein on Picasso. She writes early in the book that for Picasso, faces were as old as the world. Elsewhere she relates an overheard conversation in which a woman suggests she finds portraits more interesting than still lifes because she knows what fruits and plants are, but doesn't know what humans are. Episodes like these make the book more than worth the short amount of time it takes to read it.