A Life of Picasso: Volume 1, 1881-1906


by John Richardson. Random House. $39.95. Mr. Richardson, a friend of Picasso’s in his later years, is an enthusiastic admirer of the artist’s work but is also aware that the great man was quite capable of autobiographical invention, most of which was believed and recorded by those who heard it. It is with no intention of debunkery that Mr. Richardson has unearthed the facts and substituted a youth of hard work and constant practice for the juvenilegenius legend created by Picasso, for it remains true that the painter developed with exceptional speed and originality. By the age of twenty-five he was a figure in the Paris art world and commissioned by Gertrude Stein. Around Picasso his biographer has re-created the Spanish art circles in which he grew up, the more sophisticated French circle that he joined, and the remarkable assemblage of artists, writers, and political agitators whom he knew. This is the start of what will surely be a monumental, splendidly written, enlightening biography. Picasso deserves nothing less.