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Arty Fact

More about Mediterranean Landscape

sjohnson's picture

Contributor

Picasso's Mediterranean Landscape, Paysage méditerranéen, emerged during a crisis in the life of the artist.

His wife of less than half his age, Françoise Gilot, the mother of two of his children, including Andy Warhol's close friend Paloma Picasso, would leave him, taking the children. Of course, it didn't take long for Picasso to find a new relationship, but it did spark a marathon burst of creativity–his primary way of coping with problems in his personal life–which led to the production of hundreds of works, including Paysage méditerranéen, his rare interpretation of the landscape of Malaga, on the southern coast of Spain.

You could read the Paysage méditerranéen as a "redesign" of Picasso's "presentation of idyllic life" on the Mediterranean coast, the peaceful life of houses themselves. Due to decades of critical handwringing, it's easier to read an artwork for its "pure form," without reference to artist biography, the truth of which is hard to verify, much less connect, in terms of causality, to an enduring work. A couple of problems emerge, however: first, in the case of an artist with the international fame of Picasso, whose work is so defined by his chaotic relationships with women, it becomes necessary to refer to the works of literature composed by those women, insofar as their works describe aspects of Picasso's life which evaded his conscious articulation. Second, due to the power differential between men and women, it is often impossible to find a compromise between the view of the male artist and his author ex-wife, and this introduces a second layer to the artwork, as when art preservationists X-Ray a painting to uncover its history.

At the end of their marriage, connected with Picasso's affair with another young, beautiful woman, "journalists literally camped on my doorstep," Gilot writes, while the elderly Picasso assured her that their love would develop into friendship, and while his friends convinced him that Gilot had wronged him. In this artificial environment, alone with his new girlfriend, his electric fame, and his seniority, Picasso made a landscape of quaint, gorgeous Spanish houses, wistfully evoking the early days of love, or sardonically commenting on the way in which domestic things can look perfect from the outside, to one yearning for the inside.

Sources

Sources

  1. Di San Lazzaro, Gualtieri. Homage to Picasso. New York: Tudor, 1971.
  2. Dick, Anne R. The Search for Philip K. Dick. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2010.
  3. Gilot, Françoise, and Carlton Lake. Life with Picasso. New York: New York Review of Books, 2019.
  4. Leymarie, Jean. Picasso: the artist of the century. New York: Macmillan, 1972.
  5. de Man, Paul. "Autobiography as De-facement." MLN 94, no. 5, Comparative Literature. (Dec., 1979): 919-930.
  6. Müller, Markus. Pablo Picasso: Joy of Life : the Musée Picasso Antibes as Guest in Münster. Chicago: Independent Publishers Group, 2007.
  7. Vidal, Juan Cortes. Künstler am Meer. Madrid: Ediciones Polígrafa, 1969.