Picasso and L’Amour Fou

  1. One of the principal revelations of William Rubin’s great Picasso retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1980 was the section devoted to paintings and sculptures of the early Thirties which celebrated the artist’s mistress of the period, Marie-Thérèse Walter. “Has sheer physical passion ever been made so palpable in paint or bronze?” I wrote in these pages at the time. However, these works are far more than sublime pinups. They have to be seen in the light of Surrealist theories of “convulsive beauty,” of art as something “marvelous” and “magical,” “uncanny” and “hallucinatory”—all of which has been demonstrated by Professor Lydia Gasman in her exhaustive dissertation, “Mystery, Magic, and Love in Picasso, 1925–1938: Picasso and the Surrealist Poets” (1981).

    In the last few months we have had further opportunities of seeing l’époque Marie-Thérèse anew in the light of Professor Gasman’s revelations: at the recently opened Musée Picasso in Paris, which is particularly rich in work...

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