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Picasso once famously—and provocatively—declared that he was not acquainted with African art. Yet hundreds of archival documents and photographs—in addition to reproductions of his artworks alongside so-called "primitive" works from Africa and Oceania, as well as the Americas and Asia—illustrate how such art was a continual source of inspiration for the master artist throughout his career.
Divided into three parts, this comprehensive tome explores Picasso's fascination with art from outside of Europe. A chronology—spanning from his arrival in Paris in 1900 to 1974, the year following his death—highlights the principal points of intersection between the artist and "primitive" art: where he encountered it, which pieces he collected, and the resonances found in his own creations. Each date is elucidated through facts, testimonial accounts, and photographs, as well as comments from Picasso himself.
The second part examines the thematic links between Picasso's oeuvre and diverse non-European works, providing side-by-side comparisons that reveal recurrent themes—nudity, sexuality, impulses, death, and more—along with parallel artistic expressions of those themes, such as the disfiguration or destruction of the body. Essays by three authoritative authors complete the exploration, providing context and valuable insight into the influence of these works on Picasso and the lasting and meaningful bond he had with them.
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