A Great Art Historian remembers Picasso
Tonight I saw what it was to be a Great Art Historian, not a good one, but a Great one. Sir John Richardson, in conversation with Gijs van Hensbergen, talked of his friend Pablo Picasso. He told anecdotes and spoke of his memories with such eloquence, he filled the room with magic… and laughter. He brought the great Painter to life.
He recalled how when Picasso was involved in a series of paintings he was completely inaccessible. When he was working on his Las Meninas series (he always yearned to return to Spain) Sir John was sitting downstairs beneath the studio with Jacqueline. He heard such banging and clanging and cursing like he had never heard before. Picasso was in a bad mood, he was working. He always included something unexpected or humorous in his paintings - in this one the renowned moustache of Velazquez was painted in. It amused him.
When he spoke of Picasso’s last portrait (above) he grew sad. And thinks it to be his most powerful self portrait. Honest and unforgiving. He died a few weeks later.
Picasso was passionate about the poor and passionate about poetry. He wanted his tombstone to read:
Picasso - Poet and sometimes Painter
I for one will be seeking out and reading Sir John Richardson’s four volumes (the fifth and final being currently written) on the wonderful and enigmatic Picasso. He was painted by Francis Bacon and he was painted by Lucian Freud. And tonight I saw very clearly why. An intelligent, eloquent and very sincere man who feels passionately for his subject - Art.
Sir John Richardson and Picasso / Picasso self portrait / Las Meninas series