1907 1917: The Painter of Modern Life
The second volume of Richardson's authoritative and bestselling biography of Picasso
John Richardson draws on the same combination of lively writing, critical astuteness, exhaustive research, and personal experience which made a bestseller out of the first volume and vividly recreates the artist's life and work during the crucial decade of 1907-17 - a period during which Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque invented Cubism and to that extent engendered modernism. Richardson has had unique access to untapped sources and unpublished material. By harnessing biography to art history, he has managed to crack the code of cubism more successfully than any of his predecessors. And by bringing a fresh light to bear on the artist's often too sensationalised private life, he has succeeded in coming up with a totally new view of this paradoxical man of his paradoxical work. Never before has Picasso's prodigious technique, his incisive vision and not least his sardonic humour been analysed with such clarity.
“John Richardson's second volume on Picasso confirms what his first suggested: that this is a masterpiece in the making, the most illuminating biography yet written on a twentieth-century visual artist and the only one that can sustain comparison with Painter on Proust, Ellman on Joyce or Edel on Henry James. Nobody has ever mined the facts of Picasso's life as deeply as Richardson or related them so cogently to his work. And the cant-free crispness of its writing - let alone Richardson's irrepressible eye for the offbeat or scandalous detail - makes it a continuous pleasure to read.”
“Magisterial...Richardson's ambitious project dwarfs all previous biographies of Picasso... [He] has a gift for telling pen-portraits and makes vivid an entire gallery of pioneering dealers and early collectors.”
Frances Spalding, Sunday Times
“1907 is one of the great watershed dates in the history of modern art and modernism, seeing as it did the painting of Picasso's huge and stylised brothel scene, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon...Richardson covers these momentous ten years from 1907 to the end of the First World War with great elegance and quite authority. All the familiar figures of modernism pass by: Gertrude Stein, Apollinaire, Matisse, Derain, Satie, Cocteau, Diaghilev et al. We move effortlessly from scholarly art history through Picasso's turbulent relationships with his friends, dealers, mistresses to, for example, a perfect distillation of the differences in ambience between Montparnasse and Montmartre. What makes the two published volumes so outstanding is the sense of Picasso the man emerging - in all his complexity - alongside the superb analysis of Picasso the artist.”
William Boyd, Spectator