Saturday, November 29, 2014

Richard Dorment / Picasso's saddest love

Picasso, Jacqueline Roque and Lump
Photo by David Douglas Duncan

Picasso's saddest love

Jacqueline Roque, Picasso's enigmatic last muse, had a reputation as a scheming dragon. But an outstanding exhibition in Paris reveals the extraordinary beauty he saw in her, says Richard Dorment

Of all the women in Picasso's life, the most enigmatic is Jacqueline Roque, the wife of a French colonial official whom he met in 1952 and whom he married (after her divorce and the death of his first wife, Olga) in 1961. Just as Fernande is associated with the cubist period, Olga the neo-classical 1920s, Marie-Therese the surrealist '30s, Dora the early '40s and Françoise the post-war years, Jacqueline became the muse of Picasso's old age.
They were together for the last 20 years of his life, and for 17 of those years she was the only woman he painted. Although there are more pictures of Jacqueline than of any other single person in Picasso's work, relatively little has been written about her or the nature of her relationship with the artist.
And much of what has been written (and said) is scurrilous. In the soap opera of Picasso's life, Jacqueline has been cast in the role of the scheming other woman.
When she took up with Picasso, she was 27 and he nearly 70. The most famous artist in the world, he was then living in the South of France with Françoise Gilot. Two years after the affair began, Françoise left him, taking with her their two illegitimate children, Paloma and Claude.
When Françoise published her bestselling Life With Picasso in 1965, the artist retaliated brutally by disinheriting the children, whom he had adored. This in turn meant that, after Jacqueline married Picasso, she stood to inherit, with his one legitimate son, Paulo, a half-share of the unimaginable wealth in his estate.

Pablo Picasso anda Jacqueline Roque
Photo by David Douglas Duncan

Unfairly or not, Jacqueline has been accused of attempting to ensure that none of his illegitimate children had access to their father or his fortune. It is a matter of fact that she closed the gates of the Chateau de Vauvenargue to them during Picasso's funeral. While it is readily acknowledged that she protected him from the students, tourists, dealers, admirers, scholars, movie stars and madmen who wanted to meet the great man, this only reinforced her reputation as a dragon.
Now an exhibition to inaugurate a new exhibition space in Paris, the Pinacoteque de Paris, casts a kindlier light on Jacqueline. Picasso Intime, La collection de Jacqueline is the private collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures Picasso gave to her, which are being shown in France for the first time.
The first surprise for someone who has a mental image of Jacqueline as the dour widow she became after Picasso's death is how beautiful she was - or, at least, how beautiful Picasso makes her appear.
According to John Richardson's hugely entertaining memoir of Jacqueline published in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, she was in fact small and dark. But in a monumental charcoal drawing of 1954, she is shown in profile, a classic Mediterranean beauty with a long neck and upright bearing. Soft chiaroscuro lends her a serenity and luminosity that serve to symbolise his great love for her.
But, in a second drawing from the same year, he turns the young woman whom he had only recently begun to live with into his widow. Jacqueline is shown all in black, her head covered in a scarf, one half of her face in light, the other in shadow, an honorary Spaniard.
These two pictures summarise what you might call the theme of the years with Jacqueline as seen in this exhibition: not the turbulence, violence, sexuality, tears and anguish that characterised all his previous relationships with women, but domesticity, humour and marital tenderness in the face of approaching death.
Clearly, Jacqueline was a stimulus to the exuberant creativity of Picasso's last years. Her exotic looks and habit of sitting cross-legged with her legs drawn up to her chest inspired Picasso to see her as an odalisque. When Henri Matisse died in 1954, Picasso believed that his rival had "bequeathed" him his odalisques, and immediately painted Jacqueline in Turkish costume.
Her faintly oriental features reminded Picasso of one of the women in Delacroix's famous canvas Women of Algiers, so it was she who helped inspire his famous series of variations on Delacroix's masterpiece.
These are the years when Picasso was obsessed with the old masters. In the wonderful portrait of Jacqueline painted in the year of their marriage, for example, she is shown seated in an armchair, her massive figure looming up close to the picture plane. Although her body and face are faceted like the folded sheet-metal sculptures he was making in 1961, the monumental composition feels like a homage to Cezanne's great portrait of his father.
In a pair of swiftly painted pendant portraits from 1965, Jacqueline is portrayed as an adoring Joan to Picasso's ever-so-slightly doddering Darby, in a sort of parody of Dutch bourgeois portraiture.
And over and over again he paints her as a sphinx, as an Egyptian deity, as an icon.
But this is not simply a show of portraits of Jacqueline. Over the years, Picasso presented his wife with paintings and drawings from every period of his career, beginning with a self-portrait of 1906. There are magnificent 1907 charcoal studies for the mask-like heads in the Demoiselles d'Avignon. His gift of an exquisitely refined 1917 neoclassical self-portrait seems to say, "Here, you see how handsome I once was." For Picasso's gifts to Jacqueline appear to be a kind of visual biography he shared with the last love of his life.
Remember that Picasso had already submitted to the blackmail of one former mistress, Fernande, and suffered the betrayal of another, Françoise. When Picasso told the story of his life to Jacqueline, it was not in words, but in images.
Was it painful for her to see the 1909 charcoal studies of the head of Fernande Olivier? Or to receive a superb crayon drawing for one of the masterpieces of the cubist period, Woman Seated in an Armchair of 1914, which showed a much loved mistress dying of cancer? If so, he spared her nothing.
Here is Picasso's mad first wife Olga, not so much kissing Picasso as taking a chomp out of him like some wild, man-eating primate, turning the picture the colour of blood. There is a superb study of a Minotaur-Picasso raping the supine Marie-Therese, and a tenderly erotic drawing dating from 1942 - the Dora Maar period - of a naked man lying on a bed beside a seated woman.
Of all the major women in Picasso's life, the only one whom this Leporello leaves off his list is Françoise.
In 1958, Picasso bought the Chateau de Vauvenargue in the shadow of Mont Sainte-Victoire in Aix en Provence. At once his palette darkened to ochre, dark greens, sombre reds, and Spanish blacks. And so, almost by osmosis, Jacqueline became associated with these forbidding colours, the colours of approaching death.
But the dark tonality of many of the portraits in this show should not distract us from seeing the gaiety in Picasso's portraits of her with an afghan hound, or the primary reds, yellows and greens in Woman in a Hat of Yellow and Green, a picture that returns to the harlequin theme.
During his lifetime, this profoundly submissive and obsessional woman spoke openly of Picasso as God, addressed him as Monsignor, and often kissed his hand. By the time of his death on April 8, 1973, she had already taken to the bottle, but now her drinking became worse and she would sit in a darkened room, sobbing, or address a photograph of her husband as though he were still alive. In 1986, she committed suicide.
What we see in this show is like a series of love letters - intense, emotional, private, revealing. Beautifully shown in the superbly renovated space (the former museum of Baccarat glass) and supplemented by a slide show of Jacqueline's photographs, it documents one of the saddest love stories of the 20th century.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Picasso and His Last Muse

Picasso and Jacqueline Roque
Picasso and His Last Muse
'Picasso & Jacqueline' 
at Pace Gallery in New York


“We’ve seen so much about Picasso as a misogynist,” said Arne Glimcher, the founder of Pace Gallery in New York. “But someone who has so many women in his life doesn’t hate women. I think that’s ridiculous. Maybe he was not very good at maintaining relationships with women, but he seems to have found it with Jacqueline.”

From 1954 until his death in 1973, Picasso lived with Jacqueline Roque, whose face and figure dominated his work in those years — just as the previous women in his life had served as his primary muses during the time he was with them. “Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style,” which includes 139 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and ceramics, charts the transformation of Picasso’s late work entirely through portraits of Roque. The show opens on Oct. 31 at Pace’s branches in Midtown Manhattan and Chelsea. It is the eighth exhibition on the artist that Mr. Glimcher has organized at the gallery.

“It’s a kind of journey through Picasso’s psyche as well as an analysis of his last gift to art history,” Mr. Glimcher said. He borrowed close to half the works — many highly personal and not previously exhibited — from members of Picasso’s family and from Catherine Hutin, Roque’s daughter from her first marriage. Mr. Glimcher has collaborated with the family since his 1981 exhibition, “Picasso: The Avignon Paintings.” That show was the first reassessment after the artist’s death of his later work, which until then had been almost universally dismissed as “the ramblings of an artist who had lost control,” Mr. Glimcher said. Scholars including the Picasso biographer John Richardson have since come to embrace this period.

“People don’t like change, and Picasso was always changing,” said Carmen Giménez, a curator at the Guggenheim Museum, where she organized “Picasso Black and White” in 2012, which included a number of his late works of Roque. “When you work on an exhibition, you cannot judge Picasso’s private life — not just with Jacqueline. The result of that relationship is intact and very important. What he wanted to do was work, and Jacqueline facilitated that for him. He became free.”

The last two decades of Picasso’s life were by far his most prolific. “I attribute it to Jacqueline making a place for him to work that was absolutely compatible, without any distractions,” Mr. Glimcher said. He noted that Roque had often been perceived negatively for keeping people away from Picasso, but Mr. Glimcher said he viewed that in a positive light. “She felt the most important thing for him, for his benefit, was to make his work,” he said. “I’ve seen that with many older artists. What they want most in the world is to get out the work while they have a limited amount of time.”

Picasso made more than 400 individual portraits of Roque and incorporated her into his “Artist and His Model” series and into his obsessive reinventions of masterworks by his artistic heroes — including Édouard Manet’s “Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe” and Eugène Delacroix’s “Les Femmes d’Alger.”

Picasso y Jacqueline Roque
Photo by David Douglas Duncan

“Picasso was in competition with the history of art, which I think this exhibition shows,” Mr. Glimcher said.

Picasso first saw Roque in 1952, when she was working as a saleswoman at a pottery studio in Vallauris in southern France, where he made ceramics. Picasso, then 70 and still living with Françoise Gilot, found a resemblance between Roque, who was 25, and one of the four exotic women in Delacroix’s painting. “Jacqueline immediately fits into a relationship through vision with this painting that’s already part of his thought process,” said Jonathan Fineberg, an art historian who has contributed an essay to the exhibition’s catalog.

The Pace show reconstitutes a large portion of the “Les Femmes d’Alger d’après Delacroix” series, which Picasso began in late 1954 after Roque moved in with him and after the death of Henri Matisse. Matisse was the only contemporary of Picasso whom Picasso considered to be in his league. Shifting rivalry to homage through this series of reworkings of Delacroix’s scene, Picasso depicts Roque as a reclining Matissean odalisque and combines his signature Cubism and wild distortion with Matisse’s vibrant sense of color and decorative patterning.

“These have a relationship to daily life with a directness that his work never had before,” Mr. Fineberg said of the series. “Picasso’s whole life, he’s kind of aloof. This relationship with Jacqueline changes everything. He has a warmth toward his model whom he’s treated rather sadistically in the past.”

His early portraits of Roque are quite classical and beautifully drawn. Even when Picasso puts her face through his exercises in distortion, she never appears monstrous. And her form becomes more and more sensuous. As the nude in Picasso’s 1960 remake of Manet’s picnic scene, Roque has white flesh spilling over her outlines into the green field. “This nude is just limitless,” Mr. Fineberg said. “The sexuality of that is so pervasive, and yet she’s sweet. She’s not terrifying.”

With Roque, Picasso does seem to break his lifelong pattern with women. Rather than shut down his house and move on to a new relationship, which, Mr. Fineberg pointed out, the artist did about every seven years, Picasso married Roque in 1961 — at that seven-year mark — and they stayed together. He commemorated their secret civil ceremony with an extraordinarily sensitive aquatint of her full face, dressed as a bride, which he gave to her as a present. The work is included in the Pace exhibition.

Canvases from the “Artist and His Model” series done over his last decade suggest a self-contained, self-sustaining world that Picasso and Roque created together. In “The Couple” (1969), the two sets of eyes search each other with an intimacy and empathy that is startling. “It’s like one body with two heads — they merge into one organism,” Mr. Glimcher said. “I think that’s finally the way he saw her.”

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Samuel Beckett / Waiting for Godot / Ian McKellen ad Patrick Stewart

Waiting for Godot
by Samuel Beckett

Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart getting into character 
for their performance of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

Didi (Patrick Stewart) and Gogo (Ian McKellen) joke around while waiting for Godot
in Samuel Beckett masterpiece. Photo by Joan Marcus
Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot.
Patrick Stewart as Vladimir and Ian McKellen as Estragon
in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.
Patrick Stewart as Vladimir and Ian McKellen as Estragon
in Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot'.

Patrick Stewart as Valdimir in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot, 
stage portrait by illustrator Ken Fallin (USA)

Samuel Beckett directing Waiting for Godot in Berlin in 1975

Another Act of Beckett_workship

Alan Howard as Vladimir and Ben Kingsley as Estragon 
in Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett,
 directed by Peter Hall, Old Vic Theatre, London, England, 1997.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Kelli Brosnahan / Final Project

Hand, 2010

by Kelli Brosnahan
May 3, 2010

I take pictures for two reasons. Personally, I take pictures of things that are meaningful to me. These images represent the events in my life that were important enough to document visually or that stood out as being particularly beautiful at that given moment. I have thousands of pictures from vacations, of my friends and family, and some pictures of days where I brought my camera along and snapped a few pictures.

Professionally/scholastically the pictures I take are more abstract and generally do not hold the same sentimental value to me as my personal photography, aside from the blood, sweat, and tears that go into producing the image. I want to make people look at things differently through my images than as they would see those objects with their own eyes. I want to make people notice things that they normally would not notice. Early in Susan Sontag’s first chapter, she said “Just about everything has been photographed…or so it seems.” This goes along with my style a bit, because although what I photograph has more than likely been photographed before, I try to capture it in a different way.

I have found myself mixing business with pleasure lately, and crossing over more of my successful personal photography into my scholastic work. I do find, however, that it is harder to determine if a sentimental picture is successful because it means something to me or if it is actually a good image.

Foot and Rock, 2010

Legs, 2010

Fetal Position, 2010

Figure, 2010

Balled, 2010

Over the Shoulder, 2010

Hands and Feet, 2010

Sunrise, Sunrise, 2010

Twisted, 2010

Bent, 2010

Shadow, 2010

Body on Sand, 2010

Rocks, 2010

Upper Body, 2010

Profile, 2010

Portrait, 2010

Tangle, 2010

Serious, 2010

Wrapped Up, 2010

Hair, 2010

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kelli Brosnahan / Landscapes

By Kelli Brosnahan
February 24, 2011

Bunker, 2011
Diagonal Tree, 2011
Leaning Rock, 2011
Reeds, 2011
Rocks, 2011
Driftwood, 2011
Purple Beach, 2011
Red Beach, 2011
View from Bridge, 2011
Long Shadows, 2011

Broke Tree, 2011
Many Trunks, 2011
Falling Trees, 2011
Swamp, 2011
Rock Horizon, 2011
Rock Point, 2011
Tree Bottoms, 2011
Water, 2011
Split Tree, 2011
Sunset, 2011