Sunday, April 05, 2015

Françoise Gilot's 'Life with Picasso' (1964): Take Two

An ideal French conversation will aim to consider many interesting topics without beating any one to death. And so it is with Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake's Life with Picasso (1964). Throughout the book, much is observed about Picasso, but from multiple vantage points. Two specific examples follow.

Gilot was, during her early meetings with Picasso -- the artist and man -- amused by the situation. Picasso quickly became "interested" in her, certainly, and wanted to "let her in on things," show off a little. "But whatever the pretext, it was quite clear that he was trying to discover to what degree I might be receptive to his attentions. I had no desire to give him grounds to make up his mind. I was having too much fun watching him try to figure it out" (page 22).

As an artist, Picasso keenly explained his philosophies and craft as they went along. One idea they discussed was the challenge of voluntary restraint in creating something (anything) new: ". . . we need one tool to do one thing," Picasso asserted, "and we should limit ourselves to that tool . . . [F]orcing yourself to use restricted means is the sort of restraint that liberates invention" (page 57). Working within a convention or genre, for instance, frees one to try fresh approaches within an already popular framework. Such was one small bit of Picasso's advice to Gilot as an artist developing in her own right. 

Life with Picasso also treats the avid reader to many other characters -- always with sharp description and reflection. Gilot's take on Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein, for one, is observant and downright playful. Her powers of observation range over many people, not to mention ideas, places and events. Fabulous book -- one might even say, ideal. 

Today's Rune: Protection. 


t said...


the walking man said...

It took me years of looking to "see" Picasso, Guernica, helped me breakthrough to his ideas of consistency. He really was too much for any single one person to explain. But then so is the current theory of economics and it is good that so many years ago a much younger woman tried.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think I tend to like to beat a topic to death

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What a great photo on the book's cover! I would love to know the story behind that particular moment.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks all for the comments ~! Mark, I have a pretty good idea of what you mean, for sure. Barbara -- me, too.

Cheers ~!