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More Versatile Than You Knew
It's no secret that amongst twentieth century artists, one of the leading names in painting was also one of the most versatile. Pablo Picasso's first love of course was oil painting. But there are, in number, probably more works of his in various media other than oil on museum walls and in private collections. Most of his major paintings were the result of several museum-quality drawings in charcoal, watercolour, and gouache. He also did extensive work in India ink as well as incorporating sand, wallpaper, newspaper, and other "foreign" substances into his various painting mediums. And while this list of various media is extensive, it only includes those that he used in his two-dimensional works.

In the area of sculpture, he is probably most famous for his use of cast-off articles such as cardboard, wood, tin cans, bicycle seats, handlebars, wire, nails, and other "binding" materials. He largely invented the assemblage or assembled sculpture. On a little more sophisticated level, he created sculpture cast in bronze, constructions made of welded steel, hand-formed terra cotta, and wax (possibly modelled for bronze castings). There seemed to be no limit to his talent and similarly, no limit to the materials he felt free to incorporate into the works that talent produced.

However when it comes to writings by Picasso, we're reduced to deciphering letters written to friends, and a few journals. But there is one notable exception to all this. He was also a playwright. In January of 1941, Picasso wrote a little farce entitled Desir attrape par la queue (Desire Caught by the Tail). Although there is no record of the play ever having been performed, it was published in 1944. The characters are obsessed by cold, hunger, and love--avoiding the first two, and satisfying the third. The hero is Big Foot, an artist (surprise, surprise), playing opposite Onion, who is his rival for the heroine, Tart. She has a cousin (named Cousin), and two friends, Fat and Thin Anguish. Other characters are Round Piece, Two Bow-Wows, Silence, and Curtain. The script is embellished by drawings introducing three of the six acts. On the frontispiece is Portrait of the Author viewed from the ceiling, glasses protruding from his forehead, pen in hand. Waiting for Godot, no doubt?

Contributed by Lane, Jim
23 April 1998

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