Picasso the Foreigner: An Artist in France, 1900–1973

Farrar. Mar. 2023. 624p. tr. from French by Sam Taylor. ISBN 9780374231231. $35. FINE ARTS
Nineteen-year-old Picasso arrived in Paris on his second visit in May 1901, this time to stay. Shortly after, the police suspected him of “wanting to harm the security of the State” and opened a dossier on him. It was a turbulent time in France with the Dreyfus affair and the 1894 assassination of a prime minister by a foreign anarchist. In the 1940s, under the Vichy regime, Picasso was also perceived to be suspect by authorities due to his known support for the Spanish Republic. The French art establishment was no friend of his either. As late as 1947, only two Picasso pieces were on display in French museums. Social historian Cohen-Solal (Bocconi Univ., Milan), who curated this book’s corresponding exhibition Picasso l’étranger at the National Museum of the History of Immigration in Paris, has done scholars a service by doggedly working through the archives to see how this great artist responded to repeated threats to his stability as an outsider in France.
VERDICT This hydra of a book, one head assessing Picasso’s art, the other looking at how he negotiated his position in France in politically tense times, is strongly recommended to all Picasso enthusiasts.
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