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Picasso and the War Years, 1937-45 [Hardcover]

Steven A. Nash

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Book Description

16 Nov 1998
This volume draws upon new research and works that, in some cases, were held out of public view in Picasso's own collection to explore the period of his life from the Spanish Civil War through World War II and the Nazi occupation of France. Between these years Picasso produced some of the most intensely personal and expressive work of his career. With the outbreak of the Civil War in Spain, political crisis became personal crisis and the formerly autobiographical, even hermetic outlook in Picasso's art expanded to embrace a new political and social consciousness. He responded first to the horrors of war and then to the dangers and privations of life in occupied Paris, where he chose to remain until the liberation. The book traces the artist's responses to war as manifested in figure paintings, still lifes, portraits and cityscapes, amplified by photographs, letters, manuscripts and illustrated books by the artist, drawn from all around the world. At a time when many artists internationally are looking for languages to express social and political criticism, it is more relevant than ever to consider the interplay between art and history in Picasso's work. m

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Picasso's reputation has ensured that the defining points in his artistic development, from the Blue Period to the late works, have been exhaustively covered by art and biographers alike. However, his output from the late 1930s and through the occupation of Paris has received surprisingly little attention. Steven Nash's excellent new collection, Picasso and the War Years, 1937-1945 admirably fills this gap in Picasso's career.

The collection reassesses both Picasso's life and his artistic output during these critical years. Contributions include discussions of Picasso's wartime writings, his horror at the effects of aerial bombardment, his anguished portraits of women, and the increasingly political nature of his work. Paintings of the stature of Weeping Woman, the enigmatic Night Fishing at Antibes, and the later still lifes are re-evaluated in the light of Picasso's troubled and ambivalent response to war and occupation, and virtually the entire wartime oeuvre is beautifully reproduced in 83 sumptuous colour illustrations.

Following the liberation of Paris in 1944, Picasso told an American reporter: "I have not painted the war because I am not the kind of painter who goes out like a photographer for something to depict. But I have no doubt that the war is in these paintings ... Later on perhaps the historians will find them and show that my style has changed under the war's influence." Picasso and the War Years uncannily fulfils Picasso's prophecy, which stands as an important book not just on Picasso but on the wider impact which war has upon art. --Jerry Brotton

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant chronicle of an astonishing exhibition! 3 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on
"Picasso and the War Years" surveys his art during his years of isolation in Occupied Paris, as well as the three years leading up to the cataclysm. Although several exhibitions have been held on this same subject in Europe, this is the first such survey of Picasso's wartime production to take place in the United States. A series of outstanding essays by several prominent critics explore the complex political, social, and personal circumstances which inspired these still-challenging paintings, and the initial reactions to them. A warning: this book is not for everyone. If you are disturbed by violent and harsh art, forget it. These images still retain their power to shock, disorient, disgust and sadden, even if sixty years have gone by since their creation. Yet all the pictures possess a deep geometric structure, formal balance, and intense affect which engraves them on the viewer's mind. The sorrowful, neurotic, and unforgettable face of Dora Maar, Picasso's mistress and model during these tragic years, is transformed in these paintings into a symbol of a world gone mad. This is definitely one of the most significant art books produced this year.
4.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Catalog of an Amazing Exhibit 2 Sep 2003
By The Buckley Family - Published on
I saw this exhibit when it came to San Francisco's Palace of the Legion of Honor, and saw fit to buy the catalog two years later, it madde such an impact.
This is not a collection of Picasso's best or most famous work. Rather it collects unknown and semi-distinguished pieces all produced during the political upheaval of WWII. As such it tells the story of the occcupation of France through the perceptions of one artist who survived it, and transformed the experience for the world to see through his art.
While it gathers some curiosities, like developmental sketchs for the classic Guernica, the real star of this exhibit are lesser known classics like Night Fishing at Antibes.
Don't buy this for a general introduction to Picasso's art. Think of it as a kind of emotional history in pictures.
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