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I ordered this book, principally because of my interest in Picasso, but the title is misleading to some extent because this is not a book about Picasso, but a partial autobiography of the author. As a memoir, it provides an insight into a decade that deserves more exposure, the 1950's and a subculture that was definitley below most peoples' line of vision, gay lifestyles. I was additionally surprised that the book was published in 1999, having thought that it was, perhaps, an early attempt by John Richardson at writing. This is not to say that the book is poorly written, but compared to his works on the Life of Picasso, somewhat tedious, although undoubtedly accurate. The work comes alive, for the most part, towards the end, when, after 12 years, he awakes to the realisation that he has become the "sorcerer's apprentice" under his mentor and partner, Douglas Cooper, rather than an authority in his own right; the worm turns, as it were, and he takes off.

We learn far more about Picasso in Richardson's definitive biography of the painter and little in this book. Actually, we don't learn much about anyone really; for the most part, Richardson appears as something of a hanger-on to the glittering people and lifestyle he enjoys while living with Douglas Cooper - ostensibly the subject of the book, with a lot of name dropping and Picasso shoe-horned in whenever the account starts to flag. It is a bitchy account at times; the author appears not to find his lover of a dozen years particularly attractive, even from the outset and describes him as an amorphous blob later on.

I found myself plowing on to finish it, but I was glad that I did so. It's not a great book, contains few gems and it could be so much better, because the subject matter is such a rich one. The problem seems to be that the author is constantly struggling to rise to the surface, while dealing with far more important people; it would have been far better to have written an account principally about himself; a proper autobiography.
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on 30 September 2001
Looking for a biography of Picasso, I came across this: A memoir of life in 1950's Provence with collector Douglass Cooper, the said artist, and his clique. The first section merely a stuffing of self-indulgence and bitchy anecdotes about the art world, Richardson has centred the final part of the book on Picasso - the only point of interest here - who was at this time towards the end of his life. Thus, after 200 pages of solid irrelevance and voyeurism, I was bored and ready to stop reading, remembering that I hate memoirs. The Picasso chapters approaching I read on and was rewarded; for the memoirieness subsides under a painful end-of-epoch feeling as Richardson, his style becoming less rigid, constructs an intimate profile of Picasso, detailing his labyrinthine relationships with Dora Maar and Jacqueline Roque. Insightful: It's almost tragic and almost worthwhile. I got what I had wanted and astounded myself at enjoying such a vulgar, decadent book.
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on 11 May 2013
Interesting but a bit gossipy and starstruck. Lots of name dropping of people who aren't much remembered. So you collect art. So what? You're rich. Big deal. Book arrived promptly in good nick and it only cost 1p!
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on 22 October 2014
superb, pulls no punches
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on 4 March 2015
a little too indulgent
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on 24 January 2015
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