Walking in Bateau Lavoir with Picasso
Pablo Ruiz Picasso’s mercurial personality and his protean approach to art have captured the imagination of the world since the 1900s and has held both connoisseurs and ignoramus in thrall to this day. Beside Van Gogh, Picasso is perhaps the only other artist whose life has been of as much interest to people as his works. Miles J Unger’s almost biographical book on the world’s most influential artist tries to chronicle Picasso’s life in an unwonted style befitting the man’s colourful persona. Like the way a stone, when cast in water, creates ripples in every direction, so the book, centering on Picasso’s controversial and pathbreaking painting ‘Les Demoiselles D’Avignon’, streams out in all directions in an attempt to seize the life and times of the artist. Commendably balancing itself on the thin line that separates fiction from non-fiction, the agile storytelling ability of Mr. Unger makes the book a fulfilling read. Like an acquired taste, it grows on you; you start, unbeknownst, travelling, living, working and gallivanting with the artist, as if you are his close compatriot; knowing him through his friends and acquaintances; revelling in his expediencies and escapades; witnessing his metamorphosis from a provincial rube to the greatest artist of all time who defined avant-garde and revolutionized art. For the enthusiasts who spend hours in front of a Greco, Dali, Cezanne or Gogh paintings trying to unravel the mysteries of the world or marvel at the sheer magnitude of ‘Guernica’, this book is a key to the animist’s spirit.