Pablo: The Man Who painted Hell, Arnie Greenberg
There were many women is Picasso’s life and there are
paintings available showing most, if not all of them. The master had strange
personable views of women. For him they were either goddesses or doormats.
Some he lived with and two he married. Two killed themselves. Two went mad
and another died a few years after the beginning of their relationship. It’s
hard to see the similarity in these women as a group. He could be loyal and
affectionate when it suited him or he could be brutal when he felt like. The
same can be said of his friends and even strangers. He did have a lifetime
relationship, with occasional arguments with the writer Gertrude Stein,
especially when it was good for his career and he did maintain a friendship
with Jaime Sabartes who often lived with him or close by and who functioned
as a secretary. But this history with the major women in his life was filled
with ups and downs.
In the summer of 1905 when he was only 25, he met
Fernande Olivier. He and Olivier were often together while Picasso painted
Gertrude’s portraits. During the sittings Fernande would read the comic
strip of Katzenjammar kids to the painter. Together, at the Bateau Lavoire
they lived a poor and bohemian life with little food and little to heat the
tiny rooms on the rue Ravignan. She had done some modeling but after 1905
she sat only for Picasso. Later at age 70 he paid her a small pension. They
separated a few months after the painter became interested in Marcelle
Humbert, known as Eva Gouel. Picasso deeply mourned her death in 1915. He
had never painted her but he stated his love for Eva who he called ‘Ma
Jolie”in his work. Perhaps it was Eva’s illness and Picasso’s need for
affection but during her sickness he lived with Gaby Lespinasse. This was
when he discovered St. Tropez. But Gaby married someone else and Pablo was
alone for a while.
Then in 1917 he was asked to design the sets for Parade in
Rome. There he met Olga Kokhlova a dancer in the Ballet Rousse that
performed in Parade. They were married in the beautiful Russian Orthodox
Church in 1918 and lived a conflict filled life nearby on rue La Boetie. She
like dress-up affairs and formal events. Picasso was more Bohemian. Often
when I see Picasso wearing a tie, I know it is the time he lived with Olga.
The apartment was on one floor and the studio on another. During their
marriage Paulo was born. Pablo died in 1943 leaving three children. It was
Marina who recently allowed Vauvenargues to be opened for a short time.
In 1927 Picasso met Marie-Therese Walter on the street
near his home. She was only 17, blond and athletic looking. Olga knew
nothing about Marie-Therese until after Marie-Therese’s daughter Maya was
born in 1935. He felt suffocated by Olga so they separated but never
married. Marie-Therese hung herself in 1977. Olga had died in 1955. Both
portraits and athletic looking sculptures of her remain. (See Picasso museum
By 1936 Picasso met photographer-painter Dora Maar who
was from Yugoslavia. She documented the painting of Guernica, the bombed
Spanish city. She was mistreated during Picasso’s temper tantrums and by the
forties Picasso met a student painter Francoise Gilot.
She was about 22. He was 62. When asked to come to live
with Picasso, she said, “I live with my grandmother. She is old and needs
me.” Picasso replied, “I’m older than your grandmother and I need you too.”
They had two children, Claude, born in 1847 and Paloma,
named Picasso’s dove of peace, in 1949. But his involvement with other women
and his abuse to her caused a separation. “Nobody leaves Picasso,” he said.
But she did in 1953. Later she married physician Jonas Salk who died in
Picasso then met a young student, Genevieve Laporte, age
17, who was interviewing him for her school newspaper. She visited him
while he was still with Francoise He went off with her to San Tropez in 1951
but she left him in 1953, the same year as Francoise left him. This ended
what historians call his ‘tender period’.
But the master couldn’t be alone for long. In 1953 he met
a shop girl Jacqueline Roque with one daughter. They were able to marry when
Olga died and during his life with her hi did more than 70 paintings of her.
After 20 years together in 1973 Picasso died. It was Jacqueline who
prevented Picasso’s children to attend his funeral. She became very
depressed and couldn’t go on with ‘the Master”. She shot herself in 1986.
Since there was no will, all of his children, including
Maya were named in his settlement.
The galleries are filled with the paintings of all of
these women. They alone tell the story of Picasso and his goddesses and
Of interest :
A Life of Picasso, John Richardson, 2 Vols. Random House,
New York, 1996
Viva Picasso, a Centennial celebration, 1881-1981, David
Douglas Duncan, Viking Press, New York, 1980
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)