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Monday, April 6, 2009

Picasso's Eyes

John Richardson, a friend of Picasso’s and his biographer, helping 
with the installation of his subject’s works for a show at Gagosian 
Gallery in Chelsea.

My boss turned me on to this article after forgetting to tear it out of the 
International Herald Tribune while in Paris two weeks ago and asking if I 
could help her find it.

What was Picasso thinking during the final years of his life, when he was 
living in Notre-Dame-de-Vie on the French Riviera, obsessively producing 
images of musketeers and matadors, twisted couples and haunted women 
laced with obvious art-historical references or simply drawn from his 
fertile imagination?

“He was trying to outwit death,” the writer John Richardson said. “In this 
late body of work the eyes are nearly always Picasso’s eyes.”

Mr. Richardson should know. The author of a critically lauded, multipart 
biography of the artist, he became a friend of Picasso’s — and got to know 
his bohemian circle — during the 1950s, when Mr. Richardson lived in the 
south of France with the scholar and collector Douglas Cooper.

Now 85 Mr. Richardson is at work on the fourth and final 
installment of the biography and for the past year has been 
advising Gagosian Gallery. Fueled by boundless energy and a lifetime 
of stories about the artist, he has helped organize a show that allows 
viewers to see Picasso as he does.

Late Friday afternoon at Gagosian Gallery’s 21st Street space in 
Chelsea, Mr. Richardson was standing in a labyrinth of wooden 
packing crates as crews scrambled to install “Picasso: 
Mosqueteros” (or musketeers). The exhibition, which opens 
Thursday, includes some 45 paintings and more than 50 prints, all 
dating from around 1962 to ’72.

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