Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man: An Interpretive Biography

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9780871136084: Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man: An Interpretive Biography

The controversial, Pulitzer Prize-winning author offers a boldly original exploration, filled with reproductions of Picasso's works, of the artist's early life and career, particularly his first great love affair. 100,000 first printing. $100,000 ad/promo. Tour.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Although Mailer relies heavily on previous Picasso biographies and memoirs, from which he quotes extensively, this inspired, lavishly illustrated biography offers an uncanny psychological portrait of Picasso's inner development as man and artist. Commenting on 250 black-and-white and 55 color reproductions woven throughout the text, the prolific author presents Picasso as a painter who was wholly derivative until his Blue Period, and who then harnessed his inner terrors, his dread of mental and physical destruction, as a stimulus to his work. Mailer considers Cubism, and Picasso's related discoveries between 1907 and 1917, as his creative peak, from which he would beat a retreat by the late 1920s. This elegantly written portrait, which makes Picasso's erotic drawings and paintings an integral part of the story, mixes shrewd insights, wild psychosexual speculations, anecdotes and telling incidents. The narrative, which closes on the eve of WWI, pays special attention to Picasso's relationships with his mistress, Fernande Olivier (whose untranslated memoirs, written in her 70s, Mailer excerpts in chunks); and with Gertrude Stein, Guillaume Apollinaire and Picasso's sexually impotent friend, aesthete Carlos Casagemas, who committed suicide in 1901, dejected over unrequited love for a model.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Following hard on the heels of Oswald's Tale , this "personal interpretation" of the first third of Picasso's life finds Mailer in fine mettle, pleased as can be to complete a project he began but put aside some 30 years ago. It makes perfect sense that Mailer would identify so strongly and intuitively with Picasso: they share many traits, in terms of talent and personality. In fact, Mailer feels so connected to Picasso, he offers all kinds of daring theories about the sources of his revolutionary aesthetic and high-handed life. Freely admitting that he conducted no "original scholarship," Mailer makes liberal use of the work of his many predecessors, even, in the case of John Richardson, who's working on a magisterial multivolume biography of the artist, offering strong criticism of their analysis. His favorite source is not a scholar, but rather Fernande Olivier, with whom Picasso had his first serious relationship. Fernande's memoirs haven't yet been published in English, but Mailer quotes her at length, and these passages make for revelatory and intriguing reading. As his fascination with Fernande suggests, Mailer's main avenue of interpretation of Picasso's genius is a sexual one, and he has some striking things to say about Picasso's obsession with carnality and the awesome power of women. Donna Seaman

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