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University of Chicago Press (Trd)
Henry Miller called Brassan (born Gyula Halasz) "The Eye of Paris." As a photographer, journalist, and author of photographic monographs and literary criticism, he had an uncanny ability to capture the Paris art world of the mid-20th century. Conversations with Picasso, originally published in 1964, is a collection of Brassan's memoirs, resurrected from scraps of paper he stored in a huge vase each night after his talks with the famous Spanish painter, whose work he photographed from 1932 to 1962. In keeping with the lively bohemian spirit that so characterized Pablo Picasso's milieu, Brassan wrote these notes in a vivid, conversational style, and they are now vignettes, of a sort, from a theatrical time capsule. Presented alongside the actual photographs he took during his visits with Picasso, Brassan's anecdotes of the artist and his most intimate associates paint an unforgettable portrait of Picasso the master artist and the man. Sly humor and telling details embellish these accounts--in one particularly well-rendered scene, Picasso throws a temper tantrum over a lost flashlight--that vividly depict many of the artist's creative revelations, his insatiable curiosity, and his views on the art of his time, including that of the surrealists. One very strong image depicts Picasso, with brush in hand, using a palette made of newspaper. Confiscated by military censors due to the mere presence of World War II headlines, this photo represents one of the many wartime frustrations Picasso endured, including using a bathroom for a studio and secretly casting sculptures in scarce bronze at night. Underneath the worshipful posturing so prevalent in writings of the time, in which an everyday shopping list of paint colors is hailed as a prose poem, Brassan offers an intimate chronicle full of loving detail of the impossible yet delightful enfant terrible. Entertaining, charming, light but truly satisfying fare. --A.C. Smith
"Read this book if you want to understand me"--Pablo Picasso Since the early days of his career, Brassan has been our guide to avant-garde Paris. Not only was Brassan a noted photographer--nicknamed "the eye of Paris" by Henry Miller--he was also a prolific author and journalist whose Letters to My Parents was named "a small classic in the history of the medium" by Jed Perl in the New Republic. In that book, as well as many others, Brassan described, with wit and humor, the many important artists and writers with whom he developed close personal and professional relationships. Not the least among these was Picasso. Brassan recorded his many meetings and appointments with the great Spanish artist from 1943 to 1946, resulting in Conversations with Picasso.
While the two artists shared the same milieu in the 1930s, it wasn't until the 1940s that they saw each other on a regular basis, when Brassan was asked to photograph Picasso's works. Brassan's recollections of these visits offer an intimate portrait of one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century: a Picasso who described Cezanne as his "one and only master"; a Picasso who throws a tantrum because he lost a flashlight; a Picasso who remained in Paris during the German Occupation. At the same time, these conversations are only about Picasso. They also treat everyone who comes into his life, the artistic and intellectual debates of the time, and the events of World War II.
Brassan relates his encounters with Picasso in great detail, from the artist's dull wood studio floor to the smoky cafes. Con