Monday, June 13, 2011

Hello, darling Minotaur of my dreams. Say what you will about Minotaurs, I seem to have a soft spot for them - for you - not that I knew that about myself, not consciously that is.

I have been lightly and associatively immersing myself in Picasso, the women in his life, and his art over the last week or so. I am becoming fascinated with his imagery in a way I never had been before, sensing how it interweaves with his biography, and with the most important women, serially, over the course of his life. By chance or kismet in my travels I've discovered wonderful online resources. In a message in my inbox came a review of a gallery exhibition in the city, devoted to prolific images Picasso created of the woman who was ultimately perhaps the very most important to him, Marie-Thérèse Walter. It's a beautifully written, insightful review. And the gallery's website is wonderful, offering a virtual tour of the more than 80 pieces of art brought together for this focused thematic exhibition. I'd love to travel down to the city specifically to see this show. I hope I will be able to manage it.

Also, I've been rereading the section in Arianna Huffington's biography of Picasso, about the Minotaur. I feel resistant to her what strikes me as judgmental take on the imagery and on Picasso's character as regards this metaphor. Because I see an awful lot of pathos in the imagery myself, lonely misunderstood monster doomed to isolated exile deep in his labyrinth, alone at the kernel, longing for his unattainable love, the one who can release him.

I in turn dream of the Minotaur, of you - at least waking, I do.

It's such a rich image - the Minotaur - and Picasso used it again and again to highly resonant effect with reference to himself. Here, for example, is an image of a collage he created New Years Day 1928, the very first time he invoked the Minotaur in his art, a year almost to the day after his first fateful encounter with Marie-Thérèse as she came, amidst a crowd, up the Paris Métro steps. The relationship was consummated July 1927, and at the time of the creation of the collage Picasso was wholly embarked on their wildly passionate affair while at the same time married to Olga, a figure whom he had married chiefly because she represented to him a certain stability and respectability... something he needed on one level... but on another felt compelled - phallically propelled, as powerfully captured in this image - to run.

It's a remarkable self-portrait. As I free-associate (since I am not approaching this material, not even pretending to, in a scholarly way) it reminds me of the Peter Shaffer Equus imagery too (a play that 1.0 and I saw together on Broadway in fall 1975 I guess it was). I feel that I understand you better having seen this image. And by "you" maybe here, in this strange twinning and merging in my mind of my dream lovers, perhaps I mean more 1.0, but not exclusively, you too Beast as you once referred to yourself to me (Belle), assuming that "Beast" is someone of my acquaintance, though who I don't know, can only think about, consider, imagine. When I first saw the collage image this afternoon it came as - maybe not a sudden realization - but as an inexorable dawning, a coming together of gathering connections, a view into the depths, a way in - including into Picasso's insight into himself - in a very direct way that I could grasp, now that I'm so much older, and now have the capacity to understand.

I also discovered a wonderful MOMA website that explores "themes and variations" related to Picasso's imagery, themes including "Minotaur," "The Nude," "Portraits of Lovers," and more. (Here's a wormhole link not to the homepage, but to yet another beautiful, powerful, rich Minotaur image; at the bottom of the page is an entrance to the multimedia 'subjects and themes.')

Dear Beast, dear Minotaur, I hope all is well with you, I think of you all the time. It's a peaceful moment up here in the aerie just now. I stepped out into the garden earlier (after having planted as I promised to do, the perennials I bought yesterday) and snipped a few blossoms that I'm enjoying as I sit here musing and typing. I wish I could snap a photo to show you - I'll be getting a new camera soon, just not today. I've placed the flowers in a small vase, five inches tall, of purple amethyst glass, a diminutive ellipsis that rises to open flared lip into which I poured water and tucked one by one as I went about the borders snipping, individual miniature specimen blooms. Do you know those grand floral displays that one encounters upon entering the Met Museum, the Enid Haupt-funded ones that are just immense and towering and lavish and exquisite placed in those grand marble niches? My tiny vase with its abundance and diversity of blooms, reminds me of that, only on the most reduced scale - appropriately so, both for my desk, and for the simplicity of a home in the country. (I read a wonderful quote today, by Anton Chekhov - "Don't tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass. Words to live by, as a writer! Darling - I'm trying.) And so I regard this beautiful little arrangement in front of me. The purple amethyst vase is, indeed, colored glass, a pretty vessel, but it's the pristine fresh blooms that remind me of stained glass. But not, as in churches, black-lead lines inset with sacred rippled colors, carmine, platinum, gold. The luminous hues, collected here in a nosegay composition of green leaves and the petals themselves, are sprightly pastel lights, various shades of pink, and lilac, and lavender, with sprigs of yellow too, of rosebuds, cleome whorls, tiger-striped marigold, blue geranium trumpets -

Darling - my new camera cannot happen soon enough, can't wait

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Minotaure caressant du mufle la main d'une dormeuse (Minotaur Caressing the Hand of a Sleeping Girl with his Face), June 18, 1933, printed 1939. Drypoint, plate: 11 5/8 x 14 7/16" (29.6 x 36.6 cm); sheet: 13 7/16 x 17 1/2" (34.2 x 44.5 cm).

Pablo Picasso, Le Minotaure (The Minotaur), 1928, Black chalk and pasted paper mounted on canvas, 142 x 232 cm

Odilon Redon (French, Bordeaux, 1840-1916), Bouquet in a Chinese Vase, possibly 1912-14, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 19 5/8 in. (64.8 x 49.8 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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