Azra's Reviews > Picasso: Creator And Destroyer

Picasso by Arianna Stassinopoulos Huff...
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May 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: art, artist, bio, non-fiction
Read from April 04 to May 14, 2012 , read count: 1

My first thought when I finished this book was, "Wow." Before I read this book, I thought of Picasso as an incredible artist but a pig of a man because of the way he had treated the women in his life, as well as his children. After reading this book, that impression was not dispelled. I'm not entirely sure the "wow" was because of what he did to the women in his life or because he ended up a victim of his own game, in the guise of Jacqueline, at the end of his life.

The book itself is very information dense, particularly in the beginning when Picasso leaves Spain for Paris. It would seem Picasso was always up to something, whether it was a new way of painting, a new woman or new people to adore him. It would also seem that Picasso never learned the lesson of "what you seek, if you don't find it within you, you will never find it without." He was always seeking that ultimate painting, that one woman or that one friend who would completely fulfill him and always failing. Just when he was on the verge of finding fulfillment, he set about destroying it. The man left, not a trail, but an interstate's worth of people behind him that he had crushed, humiliated or completely destroyed throughout his life.

The one woman who survived living with Picasso reasonably intact did so because she refused to completely give in to him. She always found some way to more or less keep her center, despite his abuse. The other women in his life ended up broken in many ways and the stronger they seemed to be when they met Picasso, the worse they fell. Dora Maar seemed to get the worse of it, ending up in an asylum for a time. His children didn't seem to fare much better, considering their father lost interest in them and eventually abandoned them.

This was not an easy book for me to read, yet at the same time it was as if I was witnessing a lifelong trainwreck. I couldn't look away. Toward the end, it should have been easy to feel as if Picasso had gotten what he deserved in the form of Jacqueline, who proceeded to completely isolate him from the world. She also forced him to depend on her for almost everything outside of painting by playing on his fears and paranoia. Instead, I was left shaking my head at all the damage this one man did to so many of those around him, even after his death. All because they dared to love him.

Wow, indeed.
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