Friday, November 14, 2008

I've been reading Gertrude Stein's 'Picasso' to while away the evenings in my hotel this week. It's quite something: a highly personal and insightful description of Picasso's life and work (at least up to the 1930s). It's also a triumph of style: plain, direct and yet with a clever use of punctuation, mainly using commas where you'd expect a full-stop, that throws you slightly, and makes you read more carefully. Her comments and asides on art, history and psychology are masterful:

"The spirit of everybody is changed, of a whole people is changed, but mostly nobody knows it, and a war forces them to recognise it because during a war the appearance of everything changes very much quicker, but really the whole change has been accomplished, and a war is only something which forces eveyone to recognise it. The French revolution was over when war forced everybody to recognise it, the American revolution was accomplished before the war, the war is only a publicity agent which makes everyone know what has happened, yes, it is that."

That final "yes, it is that" clinches it: giving the impression that she is talking to herself, that she has just realised something as she speaks/writes.


Ed Baker said...

you reading [ PICASSO ] as it is in 'selected Writings of Gertrude Stein' (ed by Vechten)?

WOW, huh!

Norman mailer also did a picasso book 'portrait of Picasso as a Young Man'

a line from Stein

"One whom some were certainly following was one working and certainly was one bringing something out of himelf then and was one bringing something out of himself then and was one who had been all his living had been one having something coming out of him."

I tell you: this makes perfect sense to me!

out of Three Portraits of Painters...and Z"this" was 1912!

Alan Baker said...

Ed, the lines you quote, which are amazing considering the date they were written, are from a different work to the one I've just read, which is a more conventional (if short - 50 pages) biography, published in 1938.

Ed Baker said...

the piece I quoted from is oh let me go get it so as to be myself explicitly accurate as footnote to 192! geeze. ain't that The Fauve Period? or DADADDDDAD:


cezanne matisse picasso

the "matisse" and "picasso" portraits first publishe by Stieglitz in his Camera Work magazine then she "moved on" into The Making of Americans

as if taking moving pictures she wrote one "frame" (word at a time...


again, I forget what point I was attempting to extricate...