Friday, November 19, 2010

Picasso's Studio, Paris 1936-1955

Picasso's studio, Rue des Grand Augustins, Paris

Picasso moved into a new studio in the attic of 7, rue des Grands-Augustins, which Dora Maar found for him in early 1937. 
Originally part of a grand 17th-century mansion, it had an intriguing history that appealed to Picasso's sense of irony, particularly as he was painting Guernica. The studio was said to be the setting for 'The Unknown Masterpiece', a short story written in 1837 by the famous French author, Honoré de Balzac. It describes an obsession by the painter, Frenhofer, the greatest painter of his time, to represent the absolute on his canvas, a process that takes years for his creative powers to complete. When the picture, which becomes less and less recognizable as time goes on, is ridiculed by his artist friends as the work of a madman, he destroys the work and dies. The story resonated with Picasso who, like Frenhofer, also locked himself away in the same studio to create a masterpiece, although in his case it was recognized as such.

In 1929, Pablo Picasso, who has a passion to "Unknown Masterpiece", illustrates the story by Balzac in the decorating of eleven etchings. Seven years later, Picasso moves to Grenier des Grands-Augustins.
In his wonderful book "Conversations with Picasso", published by Gallimard, Brassaï, this great photographer rated "living eye" by Henry Miller described the new home of Picasso.
"In this very old part of Paris, the street is named after a former convent razed in 1791 and whose lands extended to the  rue Nevers,  rue Guénégaud and rue Christine where Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas still live.  The small mansion at the corner of the street and the Quai des Grands Augustins, occupied by the restaurant La Perouse since the fifteenth century. I already knew the seventeenth century patrician home of the No. 7 and the two upper floors became Picasso's studio...."
Balzac's description of this house, the stairs steep and dark, is in fact a rather striking resemblance. Moved and stimulated the idea of taking the place of the illustrious shadow of Frenhofer, Picasso once praised the workshop. That was in 1937.
 Paris 1944, 7 Rue des Grands Augustins, Paris 6eme. 
Pablo Picasso in his sudio with his Afghan dog called Kazbeck.


Bruce Barone said...

That is a great story which I never heard before; thank you for sharing it.

Wouldn't you love to be able to travel back in time and be in that studio while he worked?

I would!

donna baker said...

I wonder if the studio is open to the public? I am crazy about Picasso's work.

Design Elements said...

wonderful post & black and white image...