“A foreigner named Picasso”, French identity survey – Liberation


In a book awarded the Femina Essay Prize, Annie Cohen-Solal recounts her dive into the archives in the footsteps of the young immigrant.

The tone, and especially the intention, are given from the opening: “To the artist who, to build his career, is crossing Africa on foot or the Mediterranean in a makeshift canoe.” By writing this book, which is in a way the literary version of the exhibition she was organizing in parallel at the Museum of the History of Immigration in Paris, the historian Annie Cohen-Solal intended to tell at length – very long, even, no less than 728 pages – the story of a man who marked the twentieth century while being considered an outcast by the French administration. Conducted in various archives, this survey, crowned on October 25 by the Femina essay, explains how Pablo Picasso managed to bet on the right people and to create the networks that allowed him to integrate into France without ever have nationality. We immerse ourselves in it as in a novel, so much is the story teeming with details and anecdotes about this France of the first half of the 20th century, which is full of artists, poets, painters, writers and musicians. “In the France of the interwar period – this victorious but wounded country, bled white, swept away by a wave of xenophobia which maintains suspicion and mistrust in the face of“ metics busy spoiling French taste ”- Picasso remains fragile , writes Annie Cohen-Solal. A charismatic leader for some, he is a foreign national for others, especially since, since April 2, 1917, he must be in possession of a foreigner’s identity card. Adored by Breton and Eluard, by Miró and Dalí, but mistreated by the average official of the Paris police prefecture or ignored by French cultural officials, such will walk the Picasso of that period. “ From the pen of the historian, friends and supporters of the artist seem alive, the Max Jacobs, Guillaume Apollinaire and Georges Braque with whom Picasso will build himself, against all odds. A reading to be completed with the Writings 1935-1959 by Pablo Picasso that the Quarto de Gallimard collection is publishing this week, an edition presented and annotated by Marie-Laure Bernadac and Christine Piot.

Annie Cohen-Solal, A stranger named Picasso, Fayard, 728 pp, 28 euros.

Source: Libération by www.liberation.fr.

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