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Picasso's War: How Modern Art Came to America by Hugh Eakin

Picasso's War: How Modern Art Came to America by Hugh Eakin

Author:Hugh Eakin [Eakin, Hugh]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780451498489
Publisher: Crown
Published: 2022-07-12T00:00:00+00:00


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Whatever the causes of Alfred’s ravaged psyche, he could not escape Picasso. As he began his leave of absence in June 1932, he had resolved to go to Greensboro to get away from the stresses of New York while he adjusted to his new regime of sleeping pills and rest. But on June 16, almost at the same moment he stopped working, Bignou and Rosenberg opened their huge Picasso retrospective at the Georges Petit gallery in Paris—the show that had defeated his New York plans. Like the Matisse show, the dealers had launched it with maximum éclat, and the European press had exulted over the show’s immensity and sweep. (Seeking to outdo Matisse, Picasso had characteristically made his show even larger—with 225 paintings in all—and taken a far more direct involvement in its installation.) For Alfred, it was a fresh reminder of his struggles of the previous year, but it also was an event he knew he should be witnessing. Quite apart from the opportunity to gauge the enemy’s capabilities, it would provide crucial insights into Picasso’s most recent work. He also knew that it would be vital, for any future campaign, for the museum to assert its presence and connect with the various players in Picasso’s orbit. Somehow he needed to be there, but any trip, under the circumstances, was out of the question. Then he had an idea: Marga. She could go. They were already talking about spending some of his leave in Europe, when he was strong enough to travel, and if she went immediately, she could catch the final days of the show while he rested in Vermont.

With almost no time to plan, Marga locked up their apartment and embarked for France. It would be up to her to represent the museum in the Paris art world, alone and without any official title. In part, she was thrilled by the opportunity. She was always much happier in Europe, and liberated from Alfred, she would be able to deploy her considerable charm and exercise her own judgment. Crossing on a large French liner, she reverted to her old social self, talking her way into the first-class lounge, where she caught up on art gossip with wealthy Americans and had long conversations with a cultivated French shoe merchant about Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. She also played deck tennis with a group of strapping young Parisians who were on their way home. (“How anxious these 3 tennis partners are to pay for my drinks which amount to 1 lemonade a day,” she reported to Alfred.[10])

Yet her work in Paris required subtle diplomacy, and she had left in such a hurry that she had not had time to discuss strategy. Somehow, she would have to cover for Alfred, avoiding talk of his illness and the museum’s precarious finances, while exploring future possibilities with the dealers. Moreover, the museum was not paying for her trip, and she would have to cut corners as much as possible. To save



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