My parents’ house is large and airy, built over two floors, full of the things I’ve known as a child: my father’s football trophies, including the battered football signed by celebrity footballers, given to him as a retirement present; my mother’s art, naked angels with full breasts and flowing ringlets and the gloomy scenes that a Dutch painter, Mother’s favourite, seemed to have painted with his moods.
My mother taught us Art. Not just the different styles, currents and ideas, but who the artists really were, what drove them from the ordinary to the extraordinary. I know that Dali bought his older wife a castle where she partied with her young lovers; but what would his art be if Gala was the typical housewife? Gaugain defended the Tahitians in the times when racism was a fashion, and being liberal gained him important enemies; this didn’t stop him from surrounding himself with the adolescent nymphs he would immortalise in the colours of the jungle: blood red, and the snake green of the murderous foliage that concealed their voluptuous bodies. A flash of dark nipples, the simple coquetry of exotic flowers, bright loincloths. Today his canvas sell for £ 200 million. All because he chose free love over the hypocrisy of nineteenth century Paris.
Goya, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Tizian. Impressionists, expressionists, surrealists.Of all the quirky fairy tales Mother told me, Picasso’s drew me the most. I’m one of the women in his power. It’s just like him to continue to seduce even in death. I fell in love with his madness.
Reading about him made me feel it was okay to be different. It was okay to love something and hate it the next day. It was okay to fall in and out of love, to be excited by the numerous possibilities of life rather than conform to a boring destiny. What’s more, in Picasso’s case, his constant excitement and infatuation with women made his art.
What’s more, it made him a genius.
He might not have been a safe husband, but he was a man of many stories.
A few facts about Pablo:
His first long term relationship was with a married woman.
Two of his muses were from Eastern Europe. He married Russian Olga Khokhlova, but she hated his bohemian lifestyle. They later separated when Picasso’s new lover fell pregnant.
Picasso signed some of his paintings ‘I love Eva.’
At 54 Picasso started an eight year old relationship with Yugoslavian Dora Maar.
At 62, Picasso had two more children with a young Art student.
At 79 Picasso married for the second time. His marriage lasted until his death twenty years later.
To be continued…