Picasso's Biographer and Friend John Richardson
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The last date listed for Picasso's Biographer and Friend John Richardson was Wednesday December 8, 2010 / 7:30pm.
Quotes & Highlights
“If you want to understand 20th-century art, and how it was perceived at the time, then you need to turn to Richardson’s own stuff.” —Stephen Bayley
John Richardson joins art historian Gijs van Hensbergen in a conversation about Picasso.
Richardson’s writing is a tour de force that does not suffer from shyness of opinion or understatement of artistic intent; it speaks with a singular expression that’s both evocative and picturesque—and fully revealing of its subject.
Born in London in the 1920s, Richard attended the Slade School of Art and worked for a time as the art and ballet critic for The New Statesman. After moving to the United States in 1960, Richardson organized a major retrospective of work by Pablo Picasso that was held at nine New York galleries. For many years he headed Christie’s American operations, which he was instrumental in setting up. This work took him to cities around the country, including Seattle, a place he found “fascinating” and “very active artistically.” In 1980, he became a full-time writer and editor, and continues to organize exhibitions, such as the very well-reviewed, “museum worthy” Picasso: Mosqueteros at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City (spring 2009) and Picasso: The Mediterranean Years (1945-1962) at the Gagosian Gallery in London (summer 2010), both curated in partnership with Picasso’s grandson Bernard Ruiz-Picasso.
What became Richardson’s life’s work, though, had its genesis in the 1950s when he lived in Provence, working with Douglas Cooper to turn the Chateau de Castille into a private museum of cubist art. Pablo Picasso and his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, were neighbors and frequent visitors, as were Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Jean Cocteau. Picasso and Richardson became friends during these years, and the latter was able to observe and confirm firsthand the truth of the artist’s statement to him, “My work is like a diary. To understand it, you have to see how it mirrors my life.”
This monumental project depicting Picasso’s life and work is contained in the three- soon to be four-volume Life of Picasso. This masterwork begins with the artist’s early days in The Prodigy, 1881-1906; continues through the creation/evolution of cubism in The Cubist Rebel: 1907-1916; and extends, so far, through The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932. The fourth and final volume, being written by Richardson and art historian Gijs van Hensbergen, covers Picasso’s last forty years, the final decade of which (1963-73), has been characterized as a period that “is among the greatest demonstrations of his constant invention of the new, in terms of style, technique, and subject, and, indeed, in relation to the history of his own creative output.”
Richardson also has written for The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. In 1993 he was made a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy; in 1995-96 he served as the Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University.