My dearest, it is very hot & humid right now, promising to be even hotter tomorrow, and I'm up in the aerie with a well-deserved glass of icefilled pink wine, since I just spent an hour weeding a couple of raised beds and planting annuals - cleome, blue salvia, cosmos, zinnias, and a delicate spiky yellow flower I don't know the name of - that I bought at a nursery this morning. I didn't think I'd get around to it today, it was too hot & sunny, but then it became overcast which took the edge off so out I went, in shirtsleeves and panties, but in the country (as opposed to, say, brownstone Brooklyn) who's to know that I wasn't wearing a bathing suit beneath?
book from the library open to a double-page overleaf of this very image. (Unfortunately all I could find online to show you is this thumbnail.) What a handsome couple. She is incredibly photogenic - I mean what a beautiful, spontaneous, natural pose she's struck, sitting with him on a slab of concrete, clutching her foot, looking at - what?, in beautiful profile. A cubist painting almost suggests itself, all the angles, and directions - foot one way, nose the other, she even looks good with wet hair from swimming! And he's always, it seems to me (or in my mind's eye, I haven't made a study), looking directly into the camera.
Right now, I wish you & I could beam ourselves into a similar circumstance. Sitting on a concrete slab on a beach in the South of France sounds heavenly just now. Maybe Dora isn't looking at something. (I don stronger readers to examine the larger photograph in my book.) It may be that her eyes are closed, hard to tell. Perhaps her face is tilted up because she is inhaling. Basking in the sun, she has closed her eyes and breathes in the sea air, reveling in the beautiful moment, companionably sitting with (though not in this image touching) her lover Pablo. Perhaps she is even trying to memorize the moment, record it in her mind. (A friend named Roland Penrose, who is vacationing with them, does posterity a favor and takes the photograph.) It's 1936 or 1937. Picasso and Dora (Penrose too) spent two summers at Mougins, where this photo was taken, near Cannes; they got together in July 1936. Dora was born November 1907, so she was 28; Picasso was born October 1881, so he's twenty-six years older, age fifty-four the summer of 1936. According to the caption, "Penrose recalled that [Picasso] and Dora would make 'long and mysterious excursions by night along the coast.'" So perhaps Dora is not inhaling. Perhaps she is closing her eyes and recollecting the evening before, when she and Pablo set off - by boat? or on a romantic hike along a starlit beach, waves lapping, making love beneath the impassive moon.
Darling, are you at an airport? I'm wondering about the flurry of iPhone hits. In case you're getting ready to board a flight, I'll leave you with one last image, and I'll proof this post tomorrow. It bears polishing, I know, but I am just spent at the moment between the heat & gardening & projecting ourselves onto a pristine beach near Cannes and loving you very much & hoping that all is well with you, as I inhale your hair one last time & give you a kiss & perhaps I'll dream of you tonight or of a minotaur...
Pablo Picasso, Dora and the Minotaur, Mougins, 5 September 1936. Charcoal, black ink, color pencil and scratching on paper 40.5 x 72 cm (16-1/4 x 28-1/4 in.), Musée Picasso, Paris.