Transcript: Alberto Manguel on Picasso | Feb 10, 2001

A slate with two Doric columns reads "Alberto Manuel. Author of ‘Reading Pictures’."

Alberto stands at a podium and a large screen shows slides besides him. He is in his fifties and has gray hair and a gray beard and wears a black blazer and black shirt.

[Applause]

A slate shows a picture of a castle on a hill.

Alberto says THANKS.
GREAT THANKS, THE AGO, AND
OF COURSE MY PUBLISHERS.
WHEN I WAS WRITING
A HISTORY OF READING,
I WAS ASTONISHED TO
FIND SO MANY IMAGES
OF READERS AND WRITERS.
AND IT WAS VERY PUZZLING
TO TRY AND MAKE OUT
WHAT IT WAS EXACTLY
THAT THESE PEOPLE
WERE DOING IN
THE PICTURES.
THEY WERE HOLDING BOOKS,
THEY WERE READING OR WRITING,
BUT WHAT WAS THE
CONTEXT OF THAT READING?
WHAT WERE THEIR STORIES?
AND I WONDERED, FURTHER,
IF IT WAS POSSIBLE
TO MAKE SENSE OF
THESE IMAGES.

The caption changes to “Alberto Manuel. Author of Reading Pictures.”

Alberto says AND READ IMAGES MUCH
IN THE SAME WAY
AS WE READ STORIES.
IT'S INTERESTING TO REALIZE
THAT FOR CENTURIES,
UNTIL, WELL, WELL INTO
OUR CENTURY, A PAINTING,
WHETHER A PORTRAIT OR
A SCENE OF ANY KIND,
RELIGIOUS, ALLEGORICAL,
HISTORICAL OR PRIVATE,
WAS ACTUALLY
MEANT TO BE READ.
THIS WAS AN INHERENT
AND ESSENTIAL FEATURE
OF THE AESTHETIC ACT.
THE POSSIBILITY THROUGH
A SHARED VOCABULARY
OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN
THE VIEWPOINT
OF THE ARTIST AND THE
VIEWPOINT OF THE AUDIENCE.
A PICTURE COULD BE
VENERATED FOR ITS CRAFT
OR ITS MATTER, BUT
BEYOND THIS VENERATION,
THERE WAS SOMETHING
TO BE LEARNED.
THERE WAS A STORY
TO BE HEARD.
AS EARLY AS THE
6TH CENTURY,
POPE GREGORY THE
GREAT HAD DECLARED,
IT IS ONE THING TO
WORSHIP A PICTURE.
IT IS ANOTHER TO
LEARN IN DEPTH,
BY MEANS OF PICTURES,
A VENERABLE STORY.
FOR THAT WHICH WRITING
MAKES PRESENT TO THE READER,
PICTURES MAKE PRESENT TO
THOSE WHO CANNOT READ,
TO THOSE WHO ONLY
PERCEIVE VISUALLY.
BECAUSE IN PICTURES
THEY SEE THE STORY
THEY OUGHT TO FOLLOW.
AND THOSE WHO DON'T
KNOW THEIR LETTERS
FIND THAT THEY CAN,
AFTER A FASHION, READ.
THEREFORE, ESPECIALLY
FOR COMMON FOLK,
PICTURES ARE THE
EQUIVALENT OF READING.
NOW, I FIND IT PARADOXICAL
THAT IN OUR TIME,
WHEN IMAGES ARE ONCE AGAIN
GIVEN PRIORITY OVER
THE WRITTEN WORD, WE LACK
THIS SHARED VOCABULARY.
WE HAVE ALLOWED ADVERTISING
AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA
TO PRIVILEGE THE IMAGE
IN ORDER TO DELIVER
THE INFORMATION
INSTANTANEOUSLY
TO THE LARGEST
NUMBER OF PEOPLE.
BUT WE FORGET THAT THIS
VERY SPEED MAKES THEM
THE IDEAL COMMUNICATION
TOOL FOR ALL MANNER
OF PROPAGANDA, SINCE
MANIPULATED BY THE MEDIA,
THESE IMAGES DON'T
ALLOW US TIME FOR PAUSE,
CRITICISM OR REFLECTION.
IN FACT, THEY ARE THE
OPPOSITE OF READING,
WHICH REQUIRES
SLOWNESS AND DEPTH.
WE WORSHIP PICTURES,
BUT WE DON'T,
AS POPE GREGORY
WANTED, LEARN IN DEPTH
BY MEANS OF PICTURES.
SUPERFICIALLY, WE HOLD IN
COMMON CERTAIN BASIC IMAGES
OF EFFICIENCY AND
PROFIT, OF SEXINESS
AND CONTENTMENT.
ALL OF WHICH HAVE
THEIR COMMON PLACES
IN THE UTTERLY BANAL
ADVERTISEMENTS THAT SIGNIFY,
WELL, A CIGARETTE
MEANING SELF-ASSERTION,
BEACHES THAT PROMISE
US A LOST EDEN,
DESIGNER CLOTHES THAT
DEFINE OUR IDENTITY
AND SO ON.
BUT THE READING OF OLDER,
OF WISER IMAGES ESCAPES US.
WE LACK A COMMON
LANGUAGE THAT IS BOTH
PROFOUND AND MEANINGFUL.
WE'RE LIVING, ONCE AGAIN, IN
THE UNFINISHED TOWER OF BABEL.
NOW, AMONG THE MOST COMMON
AND THE MOST COMPLEX
OF IMAGES ARE THE IMAGES THAT
WE RECOGNIZE AS PORTRAITS.
PORTRAITURE OCCUPIES A
PRIVILEGED POSITION
IN THE STORY OF FIGURATIVE
REPRESENTATION.
IT IS THE DEPICTION, OF
COURSE, NOT OF COMMUNALITY,
BUT OF IDENTIFIABLE
UNIQUENESS.
NOT OF A SPECIES,
BUT OF AN INDIVIDUAL.
AND YET, SUCH SINGULAR
REPRESENTATIONS
HAVE NOT BEEN, AND CERTAINLY
ARE NOT, UNIVERSAL.

A slate appears with a painting of a man dressed in 16th century clothing with a circular hat, pants with cloak over it and wearing a veil as he sits in a chair.

Alberto says IN THE YEAR 1516, IN ORDER
TO PREVENT THE JEWISH
POPULATION FROM MIXING
WITH THE CHRISTIAN CITIZENS
OF VENICE, A SMALL
AREA OF THE CITY
WAS SET ASIDE AND SHUT
OFF FROM THE REST,
WITH WATCHMEN TO
PREVENT FREE PASSAGE.
THE SEVERAL JEWISH
COMMUNITIES,
CONSTRAINED TO THE AREA
OF THIS FIRST GHETTO,
BUILT A NUMBER OF
SYNAGOGUES TO SATISFY
THE VARIOUS CUSTOMS.
THE SYNAGOGUE BUILT FOR
THE SEPHARDIC COMMUNITY
WAS PERHAPS THE
RICHEST OF ALL.
AND IT INCLUDED IN ITS
ADORNMENTS SEVERAL
DEPICTIONS FROM
THE BIBLE.
NOAH'S ARC ON
A CURLING SEA,
THE SHEAVES OF WHEAT
BENDING TO AN INVISIBLE
JOSEPH, AND SO ON.
NOW, THIS WAS ODD BECAUSE,
FOLLOWING EXODUS
AND DEUTERONOMY,
THE DEPICTION
OF ANY SUCH IMAGES WAS
CLEARLY FORBIDDEN.
IN THE PALESTINIAN TALMUD,
WE ARE WARNED AGAINST
SUCH TRANSGRESSIONS.
IT SAYS THAT THOSE WHO
CREATE AN IMAGE
ARE DESTINED TO THE FOLLOWING:
THE IMAGE WILL COME
AND SPIT IN THE FACE OF
THOSE WHO WORSHIP IT
AND PUT THEM TO SHAME.
AND THEN BOW DOWN
BEFORE THE HOLY ONE,
BLESSED BE HIS NAME,
AND CEASE TO EXIST.
NOW, THIS PUNISHMENT THAT
THE CREATOR INFLICTS
ON THE ARTIST FOR
ATTEMPTING TO CREATE
IS MEANT TO TEACH US
THE FOLLOWING.
THAT WE ARE NOTHING
BUT CREATIONS,
AND THEREFORE ARE NOT
ALLOWED THE GIFT
OF OUR CREATOR.
BUT IN SPITE OF
SUCH PRESCRIPTIONS,
THE ELDERS OF THE
SEPHARDIC SYNAGOGUE
INSISTED THEY COULD
JUSTIFY CERTAIN IMAGES.
IN ORDER TO DO SO SOME
OF THE PICTURES
THEY REPRESENTED, FOR
INSTANCE, IN THIS HAGGADAH
WE SEE A RABBI, BUT
HIS FACE IS VEILED.
IT WAS ASSUMED BY
VEILING THE FACE
THE PROHIBITION
WASN'T VALID.
IN OTHER CASES, THE HUMAN
FIGURES ARE REPRESENTED
WITH THE HEAD OF A BIRD.
THERE AGAIN IT WAS FELT
THIS WAS NOT AN IMITATION
OF THE WORLD THAT
GOD HAD CREATED.
NOW, THIS DEBATE ABOUT
THE REPRESENTATION
OF RECOGNIZABLE
THINGS, LIVING OR NOT,
HAS CONTINUED, OF COURSE,
ACROSS THE CENTURIES
FOR VARYING AND
CONTRADICTORY REASONS.
FROM THE DOGMATIC
SENSES OF BYZANTIUM,
OR THE WAY TO THE
DESPOILERS
OF ENGLAND'S CHURCHES.
FROM THE AESTHETIC
THEOLOGIANS OF ISLAM,
TO THE THEORISTS
OF ABSTRACT ART.
BUT THERE ARE CULTURES
WHERE ONLY THE COMMON,
NOT THE INDIVIDUAL TRAITS
MARRY FOR PRESENTATION.
IT ISN'T PROHIBITION.
IT ISN'T THAT IT IS
FORBIDDEN TO REPRESENT
ANY LIVING THING.
IT'S NOT THAT, BUT SIMPLY
A DIFFERENT AESTHETIC NORM
DICTATES THE ABSENCE
OF IDENTIFIABLE FACES.

A slate shows an ancient mask showing two eyes and gaps for its mouth. Then changes to another mask with small eyes and small nose that is circled by a large oval

Alberto says THE ARTISTS OF NEPAL -
HERE WE SEE A WONDERFUL
FUNEREAL NEPALESE MASK,
OR THE SCULPTURES
OF THE CONGO, THIS
QUELLE MASK.
THEY WERE NOT INTERESTED
IN PORTRAYING RECOGNIZABLE,
SINGULAR CHARACTERISTICS.
WHAT WAS REPRESENTED,
INSTEAD,
WAS SOMETHING CLOSER TO
THE ARCHETYPE OF A FACE,
WHETHER MASCULINE,
FEMININE,
THE FACE OF A DEMON,
THE FACE OF A GOD.
WHAT WAS IMPORTANT WAS
THE REPRESENTATION
OF THE ARCHETYPE
OF A FACE.
NOW, IN MANY
OTHER CULTURES,
IN MOST WESTERN
CULTURES, OF COURSE,
FACES WERE SUPPOSED TO
BE IMITATIONS
OF THE REAL THING FOR
VERY SPECIFIC PURPOSES,
WHETHER RELIGIOUS,
POLITICAL, PERSONAL,

A slate shows a pencil self-portrait of Rembrandt. He is wearing a hat and has curly hair and moustache.

Alberto says AS IN THE SERIES OF
SELF-PORTRAITS
THAT REMBRANDT MADE
THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE.
A SORT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY
IN PORTRAITS.
NOW, IT'S IN THIS SENSE
THAT PORTRAITURE,
WHICH APPEARS TO CONFIRM
OR REPRESENT ITS SUBJECT,
CAN ALSO SUBVERT IT.
IT CAN, FOR INSTANCE, TAKE
OVER THE SUBJECT'S REALITY
AND REPLACE THE AUTHORITY
OF REAL FLESH AND BLOOD
WITH A FANTASM OF
PAINT AND WOOD,
AND GRANT PREEMINENCE
TO THE SYMBOL,
INSTEAD OF THE
DIVINITY BEHIND IT.
NOT AS SYMBOL,
BUT AS REALITY.

Another slate shows a golden mask with an anguished expression with curls surrounding its face.

Alberto says IN GREEK THEATRE,
FOR INSTANCE,
THE MASK THAT USED TO
REPRESENT A GOD BECAME,
AS IT WERE THE
GOD HIMSELF.
AND THERE WAS A PARTICULAR
SHRINE IN THE THEATRE
WHERE THAT MASK WAS
KEPT AFTER ITS USE,
AND DEDICATED TO
THE GOD HIMSELF.
UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES,
A PORTRAIT BECOMES
NOT A REFLECTION OF A
REAL OR IMAGINED PERSON,
BUT A VAST OPEN MIRROR
IN WHICH A VARIETY
OF VIEWERS CAN SEE
A VARIETY OF FACES.
BUT IF A PORTRAIT
IS AN OPEN MIRROR -
I'M TAKING YOU TO THE
POINT WHERE WE CAN ACTUALLY
READ AN IMAGE - IF THE
PORTRAIT IS AN OPEN MIRROR,
THEN IS IT
POSSIBLE TO READ IT
IN ANY COHERENT WAY?
BECAUSE IF A SINGLE
PORTRAIT CAN BECOME,
AS IN THE CASE OF PICASSO,
A MULTIPLICITY
OF PORTRAITS, FACES AND
BODIES DISPLAYED IN ALL
OF PICASSO'S STYLES, THEN
HOW MIGHT WE READ IT
ACCORDING TO OUR OWN
EXPERIENCE AND VOCABULARY?

A slate shows an abstract painting called the “Weeping Woman” of a woman whose mouth and nose is set to triangles and face is yellow with saddened eyes.

Alberto says LET'S BEGIN, THEN, WITH ONE
OF PICASSO'S MOST FAMOUS
PORTRAITS CALLED
"WEEPING WOMAN."
PICASSO'S EVOLUTION
WASN'T LINEAR,
IT WAS GEOMETRICAL.
EACH NEW STYLE
HE ENCOUNTERED,
AND THEN INCORPORATED
INTO HIS WORK,
FED ON ALL HIS
PREVIOUS STYLES,
AND ENRICHED THEM
RETROSPECTIVELY,
LEADING TO OTHER
FORMS AND MINGLING
INTO OTHER STYLES.
THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE,
PICASSO KEPT ODDS
AND ENDS LIKE
A MISER.
HE WOULD KEEP PENCIL
STUBS, AND BITS OF METAL,
BITS OF WOOD, LITTLE
BOXES AND SO ON.
AND LIKE A MISER, HE
ALSO PRESERVED
ALL THE SUCCESSIVE STYLES
THAT HE ATTEMPTED, SO THAT
LATE IN THE YEARS
BEFORE HIS DEATH,
LONG AFTER THE JAGGED
HORRORS OF D'AVIGNON
AND THE BUCOLIC
ROUNDNESSES OF JEAN LEPINE,
HE COULD RESORT TO THE
BLACK LINES AND FADED
COLOURS OF HIS SPANISH
AND EARLY PARIS DAYS,
WHEN IT SEEMED HE
ALREADY KNEW EVERYTHING.
HE WAS A PARADOX.
A CLEARLY EVOLVING ARTIST
FOR WHOM TIME STOOD STILL.
PICASSO ADVANCED IN
ONE SAME FIXED PLACE.
I THINK HIS PORTRAITS
ARE THE MOST INTERESTING
EXAMPLE OF THIS
CHARACTERISTIC.
ESPECIALLY HIS
PORTRAITS OF WOMEN.
JACQUELINE, MARIE-THERESE,
OLGA, DORA,
THEY HAVE ALL LOST THEIR
PERSONAL IDENTITY
TOGETHER WITH
THEIR SURNAMES.
THEY'VE ACQUIRED, INSTEAD,
THE IDENTITIES THAT
PICASSO PAINTED FOR THEM,
WHEN THEY ENTERED
HIS FIXED AND FLUID UNIVERSE
WITH TITLES SUCH
AS "WOMAN SITTING,"
"WOMAN READING,"
"PORTRAIT OF JACQUELINE,"
AND SO ON.
THESE NAMES SEEM
ALMOST FICTIONAL,
MADE UP FOR THE
OCCASION.
PICASSO'S WOMEN
ARE PRESENT,
SOFT OR BROKEN
INTO ANGRY PIECES,
HIGHLY SKETCHED
OR CUT IN ACID,
AND THROUGH GESTURES THAT
ARE NOT THEIR OWN CHOICE.
THEY ARE REFLECTIONS
OF PICASSO,
THE SELF-APPOINTED
MASTER.
NOW, THERE'S ONE THING
THAT PERHAPS DIDN'T
CHANGE THROUGHOUT
PICASSO'S MANY STYLES,
AND THAT IS HIS ATTITUDE
TOWARDS HIS SITTERS.
PERHAPS, AS HIS FRIENDS
AND LOVERS DECLARED,
PICASSO WAS INCAPABLE
OF FEELING DEEPLY
FOR ANOTHER PERSON.
AND THIS MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE
FOR HIM TO PORTRAY
OTHERS EXCEPT
AS HIMSELF.
NOBODY HAS ANY REAL
IMPORTANCE FOR ME,
HE SAID ONCE.
"AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED,
OTHER PEOPLE ARE LIKE
THOSE LITTLE GRAINS OF DUST
FLOATING IN THE SUNLIGHT."
INSTEAD OF FEELING IN
HIS OWN MIND AND BODY,
PICASSO SEEMED TO
FEEL ON CANVAS,
MAKING GRAPHIC
SENSE OUT OF THOSE
LITTLE GRAINS OF DUST.
THE CRITIC JOHN BERGER
NOTED THAT PICASSO'S
PORTRAITS OF WOMEN
ARE OFTEN SELF-PORTRAITS OF
HIMSELF AS HE FOUND THEM.
"PICASSO," BERGER WROTE, "CAN
ONLY FULLY SEE HIMSELF
WHEN HE IS REFLECTED
IN A WOMAN."
WELL, IT MAY BE THAT AN
ALMOST PHYSICAL SENSE,
ALL HIS SITTERS WERE, IN
FACT, USED AS CANVASES.
CANVASES PREPARED THROUGH
CAJOLERY, THROUGH FEAR,
THROUGH LOVEMAKING,
THROUGH MONEY,
THROUGH FRIENDSHIP,
CAUSING THE EMOTIONS
HE WISHED TO EXPERIENCE TO
WELL UP IN THE SITTERS.
NOW, THIS SEEMS TO BE
EXACTLY THE REVERSE
OF THE CLASSIC
PROCEDURE OF A PAINTING
SUCH A JACQUES-LOUIS
DAVID WHO APPARENTLY
PICASSO, DERIDED,
FOR WHOM THE CANVAS
HAD TO PORTRAY NOT THE
PAINTER'S EMOTIONAL,
BUT JUST A CONVENTIONAL
SET OF EMOTIONS.
BUT IF THAT IS THE CASE,
THEN WHAT PART DOES
PICASSO ALLOW THE
VIEWER TO PLAY?
IF IT IS ALL
PICASSO'S EMOTIONS,
THEN WHO ARE WE LOOKING
AT THESE PAINTINGS?
ARE WE TO BE THE
ACCOMPLICES OR MERELY
THE OBSERVERS OF PICASSO'S
REPRESENTATION?
ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE
OF PICASSO'S PORTRAITS
IS NO DOUBT HIS "WEEPING
WOMAN" OF OCTOBER 1937.
SMALL, THE SIZE
OF A HUMAN FACE,
IT BURNS IN COMPLEMENTARY
COLOURS THAT PULL THE EYE
IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS.
GREEN AND RED, VIOLET AND
YELLOW, ORANGE AND BLUE.
THE WHITE HANDKERCHIEF
CRUMPLED INTO SHARP CORNERS
TAKES ON THE
TRAITS OF THE WIPING
FINGERS AND THE
GNASHING TEETH
AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF
GOLDEN BROWNS AND YELLOW,
PART ICONIC GOLD LEAF
APPROPRIATE TO SACRED
SUBJECTS, PART
PARIS BISTRO WALL
WITH ITS COMMON
PROFANE PASSIONS,
THE RED HAT AND ITS DEEP
CORNFLOWER TOUCHES ME
MORE THAN ANY OTHER
DETAIL IN THE PAINTING.
THE WOMAN HAS MADE
HERSELF BEAUTIFUL,
PUT ON A CHEERFUL HAT,
COMBED AND ADORNED
HERSELF IN EXPECTATION
OF HAPPINESS.
NOW, HERE SHE IS,
DISPLAYED FOR ALL TO SEE,
DEFORMED BY GRIEF, HER
HAT MOCKING HER DISTRESS,
HAPPY AND STYLISH AND
OVERWHELMINGLY UNCARING.
HOW CAN WE BEAR TO WATCH
THIS VERY PRIVATE SORROW?
WHAT IS ABSENT IN THIS
PICTURE THAT ALLOWS US,
AS OUTSIDERS, TO ENTER
ITS SPACE SO EASILY,
TO PITY IT AND TO ADMIRE
IT ALL AT THE SAME TIME?
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS
PORTRAIT STORY THAT WILL
INFORM A GUIDED READING
HALF A CENTURY REMOVED
OF THIS EMOTION-TORN
AND BLAZING FACE?
THE RELATION BETWEEN THE
LIFE OF AN ARTIST
AND THE WORK OF AN ARTIST
PRODUCES IS AMPLY STUDIED
BY SOCIOLOGISTS,
PSYCHOLOGISTS, THEOLOGIANS,
WRITERS OF FANTASTIC
LITERATURE AND SO ON.
BUT FOR MOST OF US,
THE COMMON VIEWERS,
THE COMMON FOLK THAT
POPE GREGORY ADDRESSED,
AN ARTIST'S WORK BELONGS
NOT ONLY TO THE ARTIST'S
LIFE, BUT ALSO
TO OUR OWN LIVES.
LIVES THAT
INCLUDE, NO DOUBT,
CERTAIN IDEAS OF WHAT
THAT ARTIST'S LIFE
MIGHT HAVE BEEN.
MAYBE THE ONLY USEFULNESS
IN THIS KIND OF INFORMATION
IS THAT IT
PROVIDES SOMETIMES
JUST A STARTING POINT.
A STARTING POINT
FOR OBSERVATION.
A LEAD, HOWEVER FALSE.
A CONJURING UP OF IMAGES
HOWEVER BEWILDERING,
AROUND WHICH OUR
REFLECTIONS
ON THE WORK CAN
CLUSTER.
A STARTING PLACE.
WELL, ONE OF THESE STARTING
PLACES IS PARIS IN 1935.
THAT YEAR, ONE
AUTUMN EVENING,
THE 54-YEAR-OLD PABLO
PICASSO SAW A WOMAN
SITTING ACROSS FROM HIM
AT A TABLE IN LES DEUX MAGOTS.

A slate appears of a sketch of a woman with large almond eyes and leaning on her one hand propped up by her arm.

Alberto says SHE HAD PALE BLUE EYES,
THICK DARK EYEBROWS,
AND VERY BLACK HAIR.
AND WAS WEARING BLACK GLOVES
EMBROIDERED WITH ROSES.
SHE HAD SPREAD HER HAND
OVER THE WOODEN TABLE TOP,
AND WITH A PENKNIFE, SHE
WAS TRYING TO DROP IT
BETWEEN HER FINGERS
INTO THE WOOD.
MANY TIMES SHE FAILED, AND
THE KNIFE CUT INTO HER HAND.
AND PICASSO WATCHED
FOR A VERY LONG TIME,
HOW THE GLOVE BECAME
COVERED IN RED BLOOD.
PICASSO WATCHED HER AND
SAID TO A FRIEND
WITH WHOM HE WAS, THAT HE
THOUGHT THE WOMAN WAS
EXTRAORDINARILY BEAUTIFUL,
AND WOULD LIKE TO MEET HER.
WELL, APPARENTLY
SHE UNDERSTOOD HIM.
HE WAS SPEAKING
IN SPANISH.
BECAUSE SHE LIFTED
HER HEAD AND SMILED.
AND A FEW DAYS LATER,
THE POET PAUL ELUARD
INTRODUCED HIM TO HER.
HER NAME WAS DORA MAAR AND
SHE WAS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
LATER, PICASSO ASKED FOR
HER BLOODSTAINED GLOVES,
AND KEPT THEM AT
HOME IN A SHOWCASE
WITH OTHER MEMENTOS.
DORA MAAR BECAME HIS LOVER,
HOLDING HERSELF READY
FOR HIM WHENEVER
HE WANTED HER.
SHE RARELY VISITED
HIS STUDIO,
ON THE RUE DES
GRANDS AUGUSTINS,
WHICH SHE HERSELF
HAD FOUND FOR HIM,
EXCEPT WHEN HE TOLD
HER TO COME OVER.
EVERY DAY, MAAR WOULD
WAIT IN HER FLAT
IN CASE PICASSO MIGHT CALL
HER TO INVITE HER OUT.
THE PAINTER,
ANDRE BRETON
ASKED HER TO
DINNER ONE NIGHT,
BUT MAAR TOLD HIM SHE
COULDN'T GIVE HIM
AN ANSWER UNTIL LATER THAT
EVENING BECAUSE IF PICASSO
CALLED AND FOUND SHE'D
MADE OTHER ARRANGEMENTS
HE WOULD BE FURIOUS.
SHE WAS, SHE SAID,
HIS PRIVATE MUSE.
PICASSO'S FRIENDS LATER
RECALLED HOW OFTEN
THE TWO QUARRELED.
ACCUSING HER OF IMAGINARY
INFIDELITIES, TAUNTING HER,
MOCKING HER, PICASSO
WOULD PROVOKE HER
UNTIL SHE'D BURST
INTO TEARS.
THEN HE WOULD PULL
OUT HIS NOTEPAD,
AND WITH A PENCIL,
HE WOULD SKETCH
THE WEEPING WOMAN.

A slate shows a pencil sketch of the “Weeping Woman” then a sketch of a curved drawing of a woman. This sketch shows a mouth and a nose in two pieces on either side of the face as well as eyes one up near the edge of the face and another in the middle of the cheek.

Alberto says I COULD NEVER SEE HER,
NEVER IMAGINE HER
EXCEPT CRYING, HE SAID.
EVENTUALLY, THESE SKETCHES
OF WHICH THERE ARE DOZENS
AND DOZENS, DEVELOPED
INTO PAINTINGS.
AT THE TIME, PICASSO WAS
STILL MARRIED
TO THE RUSSIAN DANCER
OLGA KHOKHLOVA
AND IN THE MIDST OF A
LONG AFFAIR WITH
MARIE-THERESE WALTER.
MOST OF PICASSO'S PORTRAITS
OF BOTH THESE WOMEN
ARE DONE IN FULL
SOFT CURVES.
MOST OF THE PORTRAITS
OF DORA MAAR, HOWEVER,
SHOW A RAVAGED HURT,
DISTORTED FACE,
SHATTERED BY SORROW.
THEY ARE ALL PICASSO'S.
NOT ONE IS DORA MAAR, DORA
MAAR COMMENTED LATER.
ALMOST A YEAR AFTER PICASSO
AND MAAR'S MEETING ON JULY 13,
1936, THE SPANISH
MONARCHIST JOSE CALVO SOTELO
WAS MURDERED, AND CIVIL
WAR BROKE OUT IN SPAIN.
FROM THE START, PICASSO'S
SYMPATHIES WERE STRONGLY
IN FAVOUR OF THE LEGAL
REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT,
AND AGAINST THE
MONARCHIST FORCES.
IN JANUARY OF 1937, THE
REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT ASKED
PICASSO TO CREATE A VAST
MURAL FOR THE SPANISH
PAVILION IN THE
INTERNATIONAL FAIR
THAT WAS GOING TO OPEN
IN PARIS IN THE SPRING,
AND LEFT HIM THE
CHOICE OF A THEME.
PICASSO ACCEPTED
THE COMMISSION,
BUT HE COULDN'T
THINK OF A SUBJECT.
HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT
HE WAS GOING TO PAINT.
BY EARLY APRIL, HE HAD
STILL NOT STARTED.
ON THE MORNING
OF APRIL 28TH,
NAZI PLANES ATTACKED THE
SMALL BASQUE TOWN
OF GUERNICA KILLING
2,000 CIVILIANS
AND WOUNDING MANY MORE.
PICASSO HAD FOUND
HIS SUBJECT.
OR RATHER THE SUBJECT
HAD FOUND PICASSO.
IN MAY, HIS FIRST SKETCH
OF A COLOSSAL PAINTING
WAS COMPLETED.

A slate shows a sketch of the black and white of Guernica, which has bulls, people screaming and a farmhouse all in abstract shapes.

Alberto says HE DECIDED NOT
TO USE COLOUR.
THE TERRIFIED ANIMALS,
THE SCREAMING WOMEN,
ALL THESE HE LEFT THE
VIEWER TO SEE IN BLUE,
BLACK AND DIRTY WHITE.
TO THE LEFT, OF
THE HUGE PAINTING,
IS A WOMAN HOLDING
A DEAD CHILD.
HER FACE CONVULSED
IN PAIN.
THE FACE OF THIS
TEARLESS WOMAN IS
THE WEEPING DORA MAAR.
OVER 60 YEARS AFTER
IT WAS PAINTED,
THAT IS TO SAY AFTER WORLD
WAR II, AFTER KOREA,
AFTER VIETNAM, AFTER
THE FALKLANDS WAR,
AFTER AFGHANISTAN AND SO
ON AND SO ON AND SO ON,
"GUERNICA" HAS BECOME THE
FOREMOST, DARE ONE SAY,
HACKNEYED ANTI-WAR IMAGE.
AND THE WEEPING WOMAN
CLUTCHING HER CHILD,
ITS MOST MEMORABLE,
PERHAPS ITS
ESSENTIAL DETAIL.
THE FRENCH POET
MICHEL LEIRIS
WRITING IN 1937,
SAW IN "GUERNICA."
OUR SOCIETY'S
DEATH NOTICE.
TELLING HOW EVERYTHING
WE LOVE IS GOING TO DIE.
AND THAT IS WHY RIGHT
NOW IT IS IMPORTANT,
AND THAT IS WHY EVERYTHING
WE LOVE HAS TO BE SUMMONED UP
INTO SOMETHING
UNFORGETTABLY BEAUTIFUL,
LIKE THE SHEDDING OF SO
MANY TEARS OF FAREWELL.
30 YEARS LATER, JOHN
BERGER WAS MORE PRECISE.
"'GUERNICA,'" HE WRITES, "IS
A PAINTING ABOUT
HOW PICASSO
IMAGINED SUFFERING."
THAT IS, THE REPRESENTATION
OF THE IDEA OF SUFFERING,
NOT THE EXPRESSION
OF AN EMOTION.
NOW, I'LL ASK YOU
TO CONSIDER THIS.
THE CONJUNCTION OF DORA
MAAR AND "GUERNICA."
PUTS FORWARD A NEW PARADOX,
SUGGESTING THAT AN ACT
OF DELIBERATE PRIVATE
CRUELTY CAN BE TRANSFORMED
INTO A PUBLIC IMAGE THAT
CONDEMNS CRUELTY.
NOW, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE
THAT WITHIN A WORK OF ART,
AN ACT OF HATRED, OR AN
ACT OF DISTORTED LOVE
IS TRANSFORMED INTO A SYMBOL
THAT DENOTES ITS CONTRARY?
AND THROUGH WHAT HISTORY
DOES THE NEW IMAGE BECOME
PART OF THE ICONOGRAPHIC
VOCABULARY OF OUR TIME?
IN WESTERN CULTURE, THE
INSENSITIVITY OF
THE BRUTAL LOVER, BECAME
AS IN A DISTORTING MIRROR,
AN ATTRIBUTE OF
MASCULINITY.
THESEUS, SON OF A MORTAL
WOMAN AND A GOD OF THE SEA,
USES HIS MALE
STRENGTH TO ACCOMPLISH
A NUMBER OF SEEMINGLY
IMPOSSIBLE TASKS.
BUT HE REQUIRES ARIADNE'S
FEMALE INTELLIGENCE
TO FIND HIS WAY
THROUGH THE LABYRINTH
AND KILL THE MINOTAUR.
HAVING USED HER, HE
FAMOUSLY ABANDONS HER,
AND LATER, OF COURSE, HE
IS CROWNED KING OF ATHENS,
AND HONOURED AS THE
CITY'S GREATEST HERO.
CLOSER TO OUR TIME, THE
FRENCH NOVELIST ANDRE GIDE
SAW HIM AS THE GLORIFIED
MALE ABLE TO FREE HIMSELF
FROM THE
ALL-POSSESSING GRIP
OF THE CUNNING
ARIADNE WOMAN.
FOR GIDE, THESEUS'
TREATMENT OF ARIADNE
BECOMES JUSTIFIED
BECAUSE IT SERVES
A LARGER SOCIAL PURPOSE.
THE KILLER OF THE MINOTAUR
MUST USE AND THEN ABANDON
THE ARIADNE WOMAN BEFORE
HE CAN DEDICATE HIMSELF
TO THE PROTECTION
OF THE STATE,
OR IN THE CASE OF PICASSO,
TO THE SERVICE OF ART.
AS IN THE THESEUS LEGEND,
BOTH NOTIONS BURN
SIMULTANEOUSLY IN
PICASSO'S PAINTINGS:
IN THE "WEEPING WOMAN,"
WITH HER PRIVATE AGONY,
IN "GUERNICA" WITH
ITS PUBLIC PAIN.
ALTHOUGH PICASSO PAINTED
"WEEPING WOMAN" IN OCTOBER
OF 1937, HE HAD SKETCHED
THE DISTRAUGHT FACE
OF MAAR FOR OVER A
YEAR BEFORE THAT.
"GUERNICA" WAS
COMPLETED IN MAY 1937,
BUT PICASSO CONTINUED TO
SKETCH THE FIGURES OF THE BULL,
THE HORSE, THE BIRD,
THE SLAUGHTERED PEOPLE,
AND SO ON, A YEAR AFTER
THE CANVAS WAS FINISHED.
SO DEPENDING ON WHAT
CHRONOLOGY WE CHOOSE,
OUR VISION OF THESE
MASTERPIECES CHANGES.
IF WE CONSIDER THE CREATION
OF "WEEPING WOMAN" TAKING
PLACE BEFORE "GUERNICA,"
AS WAS THE CASE,
"GUERNICA" WAS
COMPLETED IN MAY 1937,
BUT PICASSO CONTINUED TO
SKETCH THE FIGURES
OF THE BULL, THE HORSE, THE
BIRD, THE SLAUGHTERED PEOPLE,
AND SO ON, A YEAR AFTER
THE CANVAS WAS FINISHED.
SO DEPENDING ON WHAT
CHRONOLOGY WE CHOOSE,
OUR VISION OF THESE
MASTERPIECES CHANGES.
IF WE CONSIDER THE CREATION
OF "WEEPING WOMAN" TAKING
PLACE BEFORE "GUERNICA,"
AS WAS THE CASE,
WE ARE FACED WITH AN IMAGE
THAT HAS BEEN CONSTRUCTED
OUT OF PERSONAL AND
DELIBERATE SUFFERING,
BEING USED TO CRITICIZE
A CRUEL NEW ACT OF WAR,
THE DELIBERATE KILLING OF
CIVILIANS FROM THE AIR.
BUT IF "GUERNICA" COMES
FIRST IN OUR IMAGINATION,
THEN AN IMAGE USED IN THE
SERVICE OF THE HUGE THEME
OF SOCIAL VIOLENCE WAS
CAPTURED IN ORDER TO EXPERIMENT
WITH CLINICAL UNFEELING
ON A WOMAN IN LOVE.

A close up of a painting shows a small child holding a doll and someone holding the child. The colours are purple and yellow and have triangle shapes.

Alberto says IN EITHER SEQUENCE, ONE END
OF THE EQUATION CONSISTS
OF THE UNFORGETTABLE
DEPICTION OF PAIN,
VAST IN ITS IMAGINATIVE
REPERCUSSIONS,
EXEMPLARY IN ITS APPEAL
FOR PITY AND REVOLT.
THE OTHER ENTAILS
THE CALCULATED
INFLICTION OF PAIN.
AND BOTH ARE PART OF
THE PORTRAIT'S REALITY.
HOW CAN PAIN BE
REPRESENTED?
IN THE SAME YEAR PICASSO
PAINTED "GUERNICA,"
HE DREW A SMALL PENCIL
SKETCH OF A MAN
RAPING A WOMAN.
THE SKETCH IS CAREFULLY
DATED JANUARY 22, 1937.
AND SHOWS A MAN STANDING
OVER A SUPINE WOMAN.

A black and white photo shows a man raping a woman.

Alberto says HIS TEETH AND TONGUE
PROTRUDING AS IN
THE MASSACRED HORSE
OF "GUERNICA."
HIS TRUNK-LIKE
PENIS IMPALING HER.
HIS LARGE HANDS AROUND
HER NECK STRANGLING HER,
WHILE SHE OPENS HER
MOUTH IN AN O OF HORROR.
HANDS AND PENIS
ARE THE LARGEST,
MOST NOTABLE
FEATURES OF RAPIST.
AND THEY ARE UNCANNILY
REMINISCENT OF THE MEDICAL
MODEL OF THE HUMAN BODY.

A black and white photo shows a pinwheel of with a human face on the outside and triangles pointing towards words.

Alberto says THE CANADIAN NEUROSURGEON,
W.G. PENFIELD
MADE A SKETCH
OF THE HUMAN BODY,
NOT AS IT IS IN
NORMAL PROPORTIONS
BUT AS OUR MIND
KNOWS IT EXISTS.
SO WE GIVE MUCH MORE
IMPORTANCE TO THE HEAD,
TO THE SEXUAL ORGANS, TO
THE HANDS, ET CETERA.
AND IT IS CURIOUS
THAT IN PICASSO'S RAPIST,
THIS IS THE
REPRESENTATION.
IT IS THE SAME KIND OF
DISTORTED HUMAN BODY.
WHERE THE HEAD, THE HANDS,
THE PENIS, THE FEET,
ARE THE MOST
IMPORTANT FEATURES.
THESE FEATURES APPEAR
AGAIN A NUMBER OF TIMES
IN PICASSO'S WORK, IN
HIS MINOTAUR SERIES,
FOR INSTANCE.
AND THEY ALWAYS SEEM TO
SHOW THIS HATRED FOR WOMEN.

A slate appears with a full frontal black and white sketch of a woman with her legs spread wide.

Alberto says COCTEAU SHREWDLY OBSERVED
THE FOLLOWING ABOUT PICASSO.
THIS WOMANIZER REVEALS
HIMSELF AS A MISOGYNIST
IN HIS WORKS.
THERE HE TAKES HIS REVENGE
FOR THE HOLD WOMEN
EXERT ON HIM, AND FOR
THE TIME THEY CONSUME.
AND THERE HE SAVAGELY
ATTACKS THEIR FACES
AND THEIR OUTFITS.
ON THE OTHER HAND, HE
FLATTERS THE MALE.
AND SINCE HE HAS
NOTHING TO REPROACH HIM,
HE PAYS HOMAGE TO HIM
IN PEN AND PENCIL.
NOW, THROUGHOUT
WESTERN ART,
WE HAVE LEARNED TO
LOOK AESTHETICALLY
AT THE IMAGE OF
A WOMAN WEEPING.
THE CLASSICAL IMAGE OF
FEMALE GRIEF IS THAT
OF NIOBE IN
HELLENISTIC SCULPTURE,
WHO WEEPS OVER
HER DEAD CHILDREN.
BUT THIS IMAGE IS
TRANSPORTED INTO CHRISTIAN
ICONOGRAPHY AND
BECOMES, FOR INSTANCE,
THE WOMEN WEEPING
DURING THE SLAUGHTER
OF THE INNOCENCE,
GRIEVING THEIR SONS,
THE WOMEN WHO STAND AT
THE FOOT OF THE CROSS-,
AT THIS EXTRAORDINARY
DEPICTION OF GRIEF
IN THIS ENSEMBLE OF
SCULPTURES IN NAPLES.
RACHEL, OF COURSE,
WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN
IN THE PROPHESIES OF
JEREMIAH, AND SO ON.
IT ALSO BECOMES THE WEEPING
WOMAN WHO IS ASSAULTED
BY DEATH, THE ALLEGORY OF
THE DEATH OF THE BODY
IN DEPICTIONS SUCH AS THIS
OF "DEATH AND THE MAIDEN."

A slate appears and shows a white maiden holding only a white cloth and a skeleton holding her up in the armpits.

Alberto says MY QUESTION IS, HOW AND
WHY DID FEMALE SUFFERING
BECOME A VALID AESTHETIC
SUBJECT IN WESTERN ART?
IN WESTERN ART, MOST
MEN SUFFER STOICALLY.
LAOCOON, THE TROJAN PRIEST
STRANGLED WITH HIS TWO SONS
BY THE SERPENTS OF
THE GODDESS ATHENA IS
REPRESENTED IN A
CELEBRATED GROUP OF MARBLE
STATUES FROM ABOUT 25 B.C.,
IN WHAT HAS BEEN CALLED
RESTRAINED AGONY.
AND THE SAME IS TRUE IN
MOST DEPICTIONS OF SAINTS.

A slate shows a picture of a saint in a clearing as an angel flies above and another painting appears with a hero holding a knife and laying on a rock in the nude.

Alberto says WE HAVE, FOR INSTANCE
HERE, A WONDERFUL
SAINT SEBASTIAN
BY CASTAÑO
FROM THE 15TH CENTURY,
OR IN MYTHICAL HEROES
SUCH AS PHILOCTETES.
THIS BY DAVID SCOTT
PAINTED IN THE 19TH CENTURY.
MALE SAINTS AND SINNERS
HAVE A CERTAIN CLAIM TO TEARS,
BUT THERE ARE VERY
FEW EXAMPLES OF THIS.
MASACCIO'S "WEEPING ADAM" AS
HE IS EXPELLED FROM PARADISE,
AND SOMETIMES JOHN AT
THE FOOT OF THE CROSS.
BUT HOWEVER, THE
IMAGE OF MALE GRIEF,
BY AND LARGE IS HIDDEN.

A painting by Picasso shows a man wearing a blue workers suit and sitting in a yellow chair holding his face in his hands.

Alberto says EVEN IN THIS FAMOUS DEPICTION
OF AN OLD MAN WEEPING,
WE CAN SEE THAT THE SUBJECT
HAS BURIED HIS EYES
IN HIS FISTS SO WE
CANNOT SEE HIS TEARS.
IN "GUERNICA," OF COURSE,
THERE ARE NO WEEPING MEN.
THE STORY OF DORA MAAR'S
TEARS DOES NOT END
WITH EITHER "GUERNICA."
OR "WEEPING WOMAN."
MAAR WAS A TALENTED
PHOTOGRAPHER.
SHE HAD AN
EXTRAORDINARY KNACK
FOR THE SURREALIST IMAGE.

A slate shows a photo of a unidentifiable image in black and white.

Alberto says THIS IS ONE OF HER
PHOTOGRAPHS.
THOUGH PICASSO USED HER
TALENTS TO DOCUMENT
HIS OWN WORK, AND HAD HER
PHOTOGRAPH THE CREATION
PROCESS OF "GUERNICA";
WE HAVE THE MOST
EXTRAORDINARY SERIES OF
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DORA MAAR,
OF PICASSO PAINTING
"GUERNICA," NEVERTHELESS,
HE CALLED PHOTOGRAPHY
THE UNREALIZED CRAFT.
FOR PICASSO, WHO HAD MANY
PHOTOGRAPHER FRIENDS,
INCLUDING OF
COURSE, MAN RAY
FOR PICASSO, THE
PHOTOGRAPHER WAS MERELY
AN ARTISAN WHO INSPIRED
IN VAIN TO THE ART
OF THE PAINTER.
AND HE COMPARED
PHOTOGRAPHERS TO DENTISTS
WHO HE SAID ALWAYS
WANTED TO BE DOCTORS.
NOW, EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE
PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS
OF PICASSO HIMSELF, OF
HIMSELF, OF COURSE,
HE APPARENTLY BELIEVED
PHOTOGRAPHY WOULD NOT ALLOW HIM,
AS AN ARTIST, TO
TAKE OVER THE MODEL
TO THE DEGREE HE WANTED.
IN 1943, PICASSO TOOK THE
YOUNG FRANCOISE GILOT
AS HIS NEW MISTRESS, AND
TRIED SEVERAL TIMES TO FORCE
A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
FRANCOISE AND DORA MAAR.
THEIR CONFRONTATION
WAS UNEASY,
THOUGH NOT AS VIOLENT
AS BETWEEN DORA MAAR
AND MARIE-THERESE.
PICASSO WOULD LOVE TO SEE
THESE TWO WOMEN FIGHT,
AND HE WOULD SIT ON
THE BED IN HIS ROOM
WHILE THEY FOUGHT ONE
ANOTHER ON THE FLOOR.
SOMETIME AFTER THE
LIBERATION OF PARIS,
PICASSO ASKED FRANCOISE
GILOT TO COME AND SEE HIM,
AND HE CONFESSED TO
HER THAT HE WAS DEEPLY
CONCERNED ABOUT
DORA MAAR.
HE HAD GONE TO HER
APARTMENT TO TAKE HER OUT
TO DINNER AND FOUND
SHE WASN'T AT HOME.
WHEN SHE ARRIVED, HER
CLOTHES WERE TORN,
AND HER HAIR DISHEVELED,
AND SHE TOLD HIM SHE HAD
BEEN ATTACKED BY A MAN WHO
HAD ALSO STOLEN HER DOG,
A GIFT FROM PICASSO.
TWO NIGHTS AFTERWARDS SHE
WAS FOUND BY A GENDARME
NEAR THE PONT NEUF IN THE
SAME UNSETTLED CONDITION,
SAYING THAT ANOTHER
MAN HAD ATTACKED HER,
AND THIS TIME, HE HAD
STOLEN HER BICYCLE.
THE BICYCLE WAS LATER FOUND
UNTOUCHED AT THE SPOT
WHERE SHE HAD SAID THE
ATTACK HAD TAKEN PLACE.
THEN A FEW DAYS LATER
SHE BEGAN TO HAVE
RELIGIOUS VISIONS.
WHAT SHE CALLED THE
REVELATION OF THE INNER VOICE.
ONE AFTERNOON FILLED
WITH MYSTICAL FERVOUR,
SHE URGED PICASSO,
AND PAUL ELUARD,
WHO WERE BOTH
ATHEISTS, OF COURSE,
TO REPENT OF THEIR SINS
AND KNEEL BEFORE HER.
WHEN PICASSO REFUSED,
SHE SCREAMED AT HIM.
AS AN ARTIST, YOU
ARE EXTRAORDINARY,
BUT MORALLY YOU
ARE WORTHLESS.
AFTER THAT, PICASSO
SAID THAT THE SCENES
BECAME LOUDER AND
MORE UNBEARABLE.
SO PICASSO AND HIS
FRIEND PAUL ELUARD,
ARRANGED TO HAVE MAAR
SEEN BY THEIR FRIEND,
THE PSYCHIATRIST
JACQUES LACAN,
WHO WAS GAINING EMINENCE AS
THE MAN ABLE TO ANSWER
THE QUESTIONS FREUD
LEFT UNRESOLVED.
LACAN KEPT MAAR AT HIS
CLINIC FOR THREE WEEKS,
AND THEN CONVINCED HER TO
UNDERGO ANALYSIS WITH HIM.
AND IN THE
MEANTIME, OF COURSE,
THE TWO MEN BLAMED ONE
ANOTHER FOR MAAR'S CONDITION.
ELUARD ACCUSED PICASSO OF
DESTROYING HER BY MAKING HER
SO UNHAPPY, WHILE
PICASSO, IN TURN,
ACCUSED ELUARD OF
FILLING MAAR'S HEAD
WITH SURREALIST NONSENSE.
TO FRANCOISE GILOT,
PICASSO SAID THAT
HE FELT DISGUSTED BY
DORA'S MISBEHAVING.
CURIOUSLY FOR SOMEONE WHO
SO FORCEFULLY DEPICTED
SUFFERING, PICASSO LACKED
ALL UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT
A SUFFERER REQUIRES, THE
PRESENCE OF ANOTHER
HUMAN BEING CAPABLE OF
RECOGNIZING THE PAIN,
AND OF LENDING AN
EAR, AND A SHOULDER,
NOT MERELY A
TALENTED EYE.
IN LACAN'S VIEW, DORA
MAAR'S CASE ILLUSTRATE
THAT THE PSYCHOANALYTIC
THEORIES OF IDENTITY
THAT HE HAD DEVELOPED
A FEW YEARS EARLIER.
ACCORDING TO LACAN, OUR
IDENTITY STEMS FROM
THE MIRROR IMAGES THAT
EXIST OUTSIDE OURSELVES.
THIS ALIENATING
IDENTIFICATION
IS HOW WE LEARN TO
SEE OURSELVES.
TRAPPED IN AN IMAGE THAT IS
FUNDAMENTALLY ALIEN TO US,
AN IMAGE MADE OF HAPHAZARD
AND FRACTURED IMAGES
AS IN A CUBIST COLLAGE, OUR
EGO IS, IN LACAN'S WORDS,
AN INAUTHENTIC AGENCY
FUNCTIONING TO CONCEAL
ITS ESSENTIAL
LACK OF UNITY.
FOR LACAN, DORA MAAR WAS
LIKE A MEDIEVAL VANITAS
HALF SEDUCTIVE WOMAN
AND HALF CORPSE.

A slate shows a painting of a woman that is half courtesan dressed in a froc and half a skeleton. The woman also serves as a towel holder.

Alberto says SOME OF THIS MUST HAVE
BECOME APPARENT TO DORA MAAR,
SEEING HERSELF
PORTRAYED AGAIN AND AGAIN
IN PICASSO'S FRACTURED
HAPHAZARD CANVASES.
BUT SHE ALSO PERCEIVED
SOMETHING THAT HAD PERHAPS
ESCAPED LACAN'S ANALYSIS.
IF WHO SHE WAS HAD BEEN
BROKEN UP AND REASSEMBLED
TO CONSTRUCT HER LOVER'S
FANTASY OF HERSELF,
THEN WHO, IN
FACT WAS SHE?
UNREQUITED AS A LOVER,
UNFULFILLED AS AN ARTIST,
UNACKNOWLEDGED EXCEPT
AS A BATTERED MUSE,
MAAR SOUGHT TO EXTEND
AS FAR AS POSSIBLE
THESE INCOMPLETE
TRAITS OF IDENTITY.
THE ONLY ONES
ACCEPTABLE TO THE MAN
WHO WAS
REBUILDING HER.
AND SINCE HER IMAGE
OF HERSELF HAD BEEN
SHATTERED, SHE FELT
LOST AND UNPROTECTED,
BUT ALSO FREED
OF ANY LIMITS.

A slate shows a black and white photo of Dora. She is in her thirties and has shoulder length black hair and a black dress.

Alberto says SHE WOULD NOT BE ONLY
PICASSO'S OBJECT OF VIOLENCE,
BUT THE OBJECT OF
VIOLENCE OF ANY MAN,
ALL MEN, A READY-MADE
VICTIM LENDING HERSELF
TO ASSAULT AND THEFT
ON THE STREET.
SHE WOULD BE NOT ONLY PICASSO'S
CONDUIT TO MAKING ART,
HIS TEMPORARY MUSE,
BUT ALSO HIS GUIDE
TO THE GOD HEAD ITSELF, TO
THE VOICE OF DIVINE REVELATION.
BEREFT OF A
SELF-CONSTRUCTED IDENTITY,
SHE WOULD ALLOW THE
VASTER ALIEN IDENTITIES
OF THE MASCULINE AND THE
DIVINE TO POSSESS HER,
TO MAKE USE OF HER, AS HER
LOVER HAD POSSESSED
AND MADE USE OF HER.
EXCEPT THAT IF SHE
WAS TO BE LOST,
SHE WOULD DO SO
ACTIVELY AS HER
LAST SELF-WILLED ACTION.
IN HER OWN MIND, SHE
WOULD WITHDRAW FROM
EVERY PORTRAIT,
FROM EVERY SKETCH,
FROM EVERY IMAGE OF HER
PAIN AND HER SORROW
CAUSED AND USED SO
DEFTLY BY PICASSO.
SHE WOULD BECOME
AN ABSENCE.
SHE WOULD, IF THIS
WERE POSSIBLE,
CALL BACK HER SOUL
FROM THE CANVAS,
AND LEAVE NOTHING BUT
THE MAGNIFICENT CASING,
THE BRILLIANTLY
CRAFTED COCOON.
AND SHE WOULD NOT
VANISH SOFTLY,
AS LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE,
SHE WOULD LOSE HERSELF.
IT WAS AN ACT
OF VIOLENCE,
BUT THE OPPOSITE
OF SUICIDE.
AS WE STARE FROM PICASSO'S
SIDE OF THE CANVAS
AT THE WOMAN WE
ARE TOLD IS DORA,
IT IS POSSIBLE TO BELIEVE
THAT BEYOND THE VICARIOUS
AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL
FAME IMPOSED UPON HER
BY EXHIBITIONS AND
MUSEUMS,
UPON VOYEURS SUCH AS
US, SHE SUCCEEDED.
DORA MAAR, WHOM
YOU SEE HERE,
DIED IN PARIS ON
JULY 1997, AGED 89.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
[Applause]

Classical music plays as the end credits roll.

Comments and queries, email: bigideas@tvo.org

Telephone: (416) 484-2746.

Big Ideas, TVONTARIO, Box 200, Station Q, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. M4T 2T1.

Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Associate Producer, Mike Miner.

Sound, Maurice Dalzot.

Executive Producer, Doug Grant.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2001, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Alberto Manguel on Picasso