One of The Christian Science Monitor’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2018
“An engrossing read…a historically and psychologically rich account of the young Picasso and his coteries in Barcelona and Paris” (The Washington Post) and how he achieved his breakthrough and revolutionized modern art through his masterpiece, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
In 1900, eighteen-year-old Pablo Picasso journeyed from Barcelona to Paris, the glittering capital of the art world. For the next several years he endured poverty and neglect before emerging as the leader of a bohemian band of painters, sculptors, and poets. Here he met his first true love and enjoyed his first taste of fame. Decades later Picasso would look back on these years as the happiest of his long life.
Recognition came first from the avant-garde, then from daring collectors like Leo and Gertrude Stein. In 1907, Picasso began the vast, disturbing masterpiece known as Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Inspired by the painting of Paul Cézanne and the inventions of African and tribal sculpture, Picasso created a work that captured the disorienting experience of modernity itself. The painting proved so shocking that even his friends assumed he’d gone mad, but over the months and years it exerted an ever greater fascination on the most advanced painters and sculptors, ultimately laying the foundation for the most innovative century in the history of art.
In Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World, Miles J. Unger “combines the personal story of Picasso’s early years in Paris—his friendships, his romances, his great ambition, his fears—with the larger story of modernism and the avant-garde” (The Christian Science Monitor). This is the story of an artistic genius with a singular creative gift. It is “riveting…This engrossing book chronicles with precision and enthusiasm a painting with lasting impact in today’s art world” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), all of it played out against the backdrop of the world’s most captivating city.