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A Life of Picasso: The Prodigy, 1881-1906 by John Richardson

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As he magnificently combines meticulous scholarship with irresistible narrative appeal, Richardson draws on his close friendship with Picasso, his own diaries, the collaboration of Picasso's widow Jacqueline, and unprecedented access to Picasso's studio and papers to arrive at a profound understanding of the artist and his work. 800 photos.

Reviews (7)
This first volume of a series of three chronological biographies is extraordinary. Richardson presents a thorough history and analysis of Picasso's life and his artistic development. This book is illustrated throughout with black and white photos on nearly every page. Included are photos of Picasso's family and his contemporaries, as well as photos of his work. Also included are pictures of art which may have influenced Picasso's work. Although the illustrations are black and white (I suspect color would make the book cost prohibitive) they give the reader a very clear understanding of how the artist developed. There is much about Picasso that is the "stuff of legends", and Richardson tries to present an objective, factual biography. The author seamlessly weaves biographical, historic information, with an artistic analysis of Picasso's early work. Despite the tendency for normal mortals to be awestruck and dazzled by Picasso's rapid, mercurial development during his early years, Richardson keeps a clear head and analyses Picasso's work in an objective manner. The author understands his subject and his art work. This is really a remarkable biography. I look forward to reading the second and third volumes. (I considered purchasing this on Kindle and am glad I purchased the actual book as there are illustrations on nearly every page. That sometimes does not translate so well on the Kindle.)
This first part to three part series Mr. Richardson has written on Picasso is a preview of the greatness of the volumes to come. Mr. Richardson has a flair for bringing to life the times and events that led to the greatest revolution in the art world that has yet to be matched to this day. Mr. Richardson's prose is very well written and brings to life the world at that time, (1881-1906). The book ends just at the eve of 1907 and Picasso standing at the brink of revolutionizing the whole of the entire Western Art world. The research is exhaustive and very well documented. The author shatters many myths and inaccuracies previously put forth by the artist, (Mr. Richardson was a personal friend and confidant), and previous biographers. What emerges is a very detailed analysis of this great artist and the events and links that led to what we call art today. If I have one negative criticism of Mr. Richardson's writing is that he, at times, will lapse into a phrase in either French or German that is not translated for the reader. However, in today's world this is a small issue with translators on the internet easily available. And to be fair, the instances of such are not the norm, but the exception. I highly recommend this and the two following books which I own. I, for one, eagerly await the fourth and perhaps final volume in the series. If you like Picasso, or you're just a student of art, do yourself a favor and buy this book.
The first volume of John Richardson's monumental Life of Picasso (so far, three volumes have been published), this book is a thoroughly documented and elegantly written account of Picasso's early years in Malaga, Barcelona and Paris (up to 1907 and the inception of his masterpiece "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon"). Following a strictly chronological pattern, the text is accompanied by numerous illustrations (all in black and white) of every single work quoted by the author (whether or not by Picasso; there are even small portraits by Picasso's mistress Fernande Olivier, who appears to have been more than a merely talented artist). A must-read and an unsurpassed biography of the Spanish master, as Richardson (himself a friend of Picasso's) had first-hand access to a trove of unpublished documents and a privileged relationship with Picasso's heirs.
Like "Finnegans Wake,"
I love to read this book to the end,
only to start again and again.

You have jokes, knowledge, smiles,
humour, tragedy, lots and tons of
records and documents and photographs
and pictures and Richardson's love for his

A book to burn only in case you want to buy another
one new just for the sake of doing a sacred hecatomb
in honor of this sage of the temple of Apollo.

ISBN: 037571149X

Rating: 4.4/5

Votes: 133

Other Formats: lrf mbr lit txt

ISBN13: 978-0375711497

Publisher: Knopf; Reprint edition (October 16, 2007)

Language: English

Subcategory: Historical

Pages: 560

A Life of Picasso: The Prodigy, 1881-1906
Biographies & Memoris
Author: John Richardson
Title: A Life of Picasso: The Prodigy, 1881-1906