Monday, September 30, 2013

A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932

I finished reading A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years. The third volume of a planned four volume set, this book covers Picasso's middle years. I read the first volume [The Prodigy] in 2009 and the second volume [The Cubist Rebel] in 2011.

One of the things that spurred me to read the first two volumes was the variety of Picasso's work that I have seen over the years. This book expands upon this theme. I never realized that he spend time designing sets and costumes for ballets. In addition to a dizzying variety of paintings during this period, his work included sculptures, tapestry, lithographs and the patterns for some furniture!

I also surprised by how successful his was. Picasso had a large apartment in Paris, an estate in the country and vacationed in the south of France every summer. He and his first wife Olga [a Russian ballerina] were very much a part of high society. They enjoyed formal dinner parties and all the social niceties attendant to the life of the rich in 1920s Paris.

I had forgotten how much I had struggled with the second volume two years ago. Like that volume, I labored through the first half of this book. I ended up putting the book aside in August and reading something else; this is something that I can't remember doing in the last twenty-five years. Flying to Seattle and back, I got a chance to refocus on the book. The second half was definitely more readable for the causal reader than the first half. The first half of the book was just too involved with all of the machinations of the high society life that Picasso was living.

I don't recommend this book for the causal reader. Nevertheless, I am interested in getting the fourth volume which is supposed to be published next year. I am interested finishing the story of Picasso's life.

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