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Loving Picasso: The Private Journal of Fernande Olivier
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0810942518, Hardcover)Fernande Olivier was Picasso's first great love. Happily for us, she had a lively writing style and a keen eye for detail. Illustrated with more than 80 contemporary photographs and paintings, Loving Picasso: The Private Journal of Fernande Olivier is a compulsively readable account of the quarrels, escapades, pleasures, and privations of the young artist and his circle between 1905 and 1912. The two met when Olivier was working as an artist's model, having escaped a loveless childhood and a disastrous early marriage. This book smoothly melds retranslated material from her 1933 memoir (Picasso et ses amis) with the posthumously published Souvenirs intimes and selections from her correspondence, including her plaintive letters to Alice B. Toklas during a lonely holiday with Picasso in rural Spain.
Honest to the point of bluntness, Olivier--whom Picasso eventually abandoned for Eva Gouel, a younger, more passive friend of hers--sums up her lover as a workaholic, an impulse buyer (when he had cash) of bric-a- brac and good furniture, a contrarian who found charm in wearing peculiar outfits and pretending he had no taste, and a jealous lover who often kept her locked up when he went out. She describes their home, the Bateau Lavoir in Montmartre, as "a weird, squalid building echoing from morning to night with every kind of noise: discussion, singing, shouting, calling, the sound of buckets used to empty the toilet clattering noisily on the floor ... doors slammed, suggestive moaning coming through the closed doors of the studios."
As Picasso biographer John Richardson relates in an afterword, Olivier never rebounded from her rejection by Picasso. Her middle years were dogged by faithless lovers, financial woes, and Gertrude Stein's deviousness (agreeing to help Olivier publish her memoirs, Stein instead wrote her own version of the era). --Cathy Curtis
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:31 -0400)
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