“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso
We know Pablo Picasso as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. From his Blue Period to the development of the art style, Cubism, Picasso’s influence created a seismic shift in how society perceived fine art. Thanks to the extensive work of internationally-renowned American photojournalist, David Douglas Duncan, Celebrating Picasso offers a glimpse into Picasso’s world at his studio and summer home, Villa La Californie, where Picasso’s family and friends like Jean Cocteau and Gary Cooper often frequented. The exhibit, selections from the 161 inkjet prints gifted by Duncan to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, is currently on display at the Trout Museum of Art in Appleton.
Celebrating Picasso: Photographs by David Douglas Duncan
Duncan is best known for his wartime photography from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, and although these photos launched his career, he considers his photographs of Picasso to be his best work according to Kathryn Pfeifer, the education and events coordinator at the Trout. Duncan found out about Picasso through a mutual friend and fellow photographer, Robert Capa, who suggested they meet. Before showing up unannounced to Picasso’s home in Cannes, France, he had a gold ring made for Picasso. Inscribed inside was – PICASSO-DUNCAN.
So from then on, Duncan spent the next 17 years with Picasso and his friends and family, documenting snippets of his life – at work and at play. We see what sparked his imagination, and what inspired his creations. The first photograph Duncan took of Picasso, was of the artist in his bathtub. “Seeing a photograph of Picasso in his bathtub is hilarious, but knowing the story behind it gives it so much more meaning,” says Pfeifer. She describes the photograph as an interesting representation of their relationship – a true behind-the-scenes moment of the painter.
One of my favorite pieces in the collection was Picasso on La Californie’s third floor balcony, where his pigeons live. From the palm trees in the background, the birds at flight, to a Picasso at peace, it truly captured the essence of La Californie. The paradise housed the prolific painter’s exotic works that exemplified the summer home’s same sense of exoticism. La Californie was a place where Jacqueline would try to teach Picasso how to dance, where Claude and Paloma would jump rope and where their dachshund Lump could relax.
Duncan’s photographs in Celebrating Picasso, will transport Trout visitors into a villa full of light, laughter, and a man larger than life. “You will learn more about Picasso than you could imagine,” Pfeifer says, “and you are sure to be inspired when you see the world through the lens of this outstanding photographer.” The exhibit will be on display until April 30. Docent-led tours will also take place on Saturdays at 11 am, and are included in the admission fee. More information can be found on the Trout Museum’s website.