Wednesday, May 18, 2011


While scanning the bookshops of Hay on Wye - Frank Russell's 1980's work on Picasso's Guernica caught my eye, Now although I have a contract with myself to move on from Picasso and avoid further books on him, this one had to be an exception. Because of the seven stage photographs of the work by Dora Marr in conjunction with his own dated drawings give such an insight into the creative thinking any serious analysis from this point of view is worth a punt! Years ago,I myself photocopied the seven states and the drawings in order to study them in sequence perhaps to glean more of the conception of such a monumental work. (to see the work in Madrid is worth the air fare alone)
Russell draws on previous scholarship and his own careful dissection of this great work in its various stages, along with the 1930 crucifixion and a whole raft of ancient source material that bear on the composition and ingredients used. The corpse in the 11th C Commentary of the Apocalypse of Saint Sever in some form was published in Paris just previous to his painting the 1930 Crucifixion and was very available to Picasso at the time. This is just an detail in the comprehensive book that I read eagerly from cover to cover. Fascinating stuff!
To me the ancient roots, the timeless meta-narratives and the recurring imagery rang many bells and will send me scurrying back to the museums in the coming weeks.