Friday, December 08, 2006

Picasso head

This is a sculpture by Pablo Picasso. It is dedicated to one of his friends, the famous French poet Guillaume Apollinaire. It was inaugurated in June 1959 and can still be seen where I took this photo, in the Laurent Prache square in the Saint Germain area (if you look carefully in the background of the photo you can see the the famous Les deux Magots café.). By the way, if you want to make your own Picasso head, try this!


  1. Amazing. Where else can you walk down the street and see a work by Picasso just sitting outside?

    I love Paris.

  2. Thanks for the link to "make your own Picasso head". Funny.
    Eric, I am afraid you'll soon be bombarded with emails inviting you to check their gallery...
    You might want to set up an international "Best of" contest.

  3. One of my favourite Apolloniare poems is 'The Ninth Secret Poem'; which, rhythmically speaking, is not unlike the waves of lust and delirium experienced during the act of making love (to which it alludes using a variety of natural and mythological metaphors). Try reading it out aloud and you'll see - or rather, hear - what I mean.


    I worship your fleece which is the perfect triangle
    Of the Goddess
    I am the lumberjack of the only virgin forest
    O my Eldorado
    I am the only fish in your voluptuous ocean
    You my lovely Siren
    I am the climber on your snowy mountains
    O my whitest Alp
    I am the heavenly archer at your beautiful mouth
    O my darling quiver
    I am the hauler of your midnight hair
    O lovely ship on the canal of my kisses
    And the lilies of your arms are beckoning me
    O my summer garden
    The fruits of your breast are ripening their honey for me
    O my sweet-smelling orchard
    And I am raising you O Madeleine O my beauty above the earth
    Like the torch of all light

    Finally, Mr. Picasso Head is a hoot.

  4. OK, that is too funny! I had fun creating my own painting with that external link... Just what the doctor ordered as the week is winding down. Thanks, Eric :)

  5. Excellent point buzzgirl!

    I was right there several times but never noticed this. There is just so much to see....I love the 6th! If I were to live in Paris, that is where I think I would like to live. Or the 7th. I have expensive tastes don't I? Can't help it.

  6. that link was so much fun!

  7. Louie London, The poem: Whew!!

    I used to play at being Jackson Pollock but can't find the link anymore. The small Picasso museum is also very cool!

  8. cool, so big head!!!
    and that link is so funny, i am creating my own picasso head....

    shanghai daily photo

  9. Ooooooooooo-kaaaaaaaaaaaaay Louis London! Don't think that poem could speak any louder to me! LOL! ;-) Great bust...I mean...head Eric...geez, I give up!

  10. Dora Maar....saw a terrific exhibition this year in Melbourne - Picasso Love and War, which was mainly the period of the relationship of Picasso and Maar, and their influence on each other. I believe it was curated first at the Paris Picasso museum - that's where most of the works came from.

    Why did Picasso decide to send this head of Dora as a tribute to his friend Apollinaire? Maar never knew him. At this time, Picasso and Maar were no longer together, and in fact thier relationship was embittered.

    Originally he planned something rather more grandiose as a tribute to Apollinaire, but it was turned down by the city council, apparently, so this was substituted.

  11. Great to see some art Eric, thanks! I too am kind of surprised that a Picasso is right there on the street. Unfortunately in the uk, although we do have such art placed like this, we often suffer with hooliganism, people defacing things like this. Have there been any problems?
    I want to go to les deux magots!

  12. Is Passage Dauphine still there in the VIeme? Can you take a picture of Passage Dauphine and post it? I miss Paris so much!! Thanks, Eric.

  13. Lynn, the only defacing we suffer from on that kind of sculptures is made by... the pigeons who love to stand on top of them.

    The white spots don't all come from the rain water tartar if you see what I mean!

    Buzzgirl. Very true. And I must say I never noticed all this street art before I started PDP...

    Wow, Sally, you seem to know a lot about Picasso. I really don't know why he decided on this Dora Maar head, probably because he thought it was nice and wanted to honour his friend.

    I bet Haxo is gonna come up with a much better explanation!

    You could probably find the same quantity of street art in Italy I'm sure.

  14. It seems as if the tree is leaning over to bless her head. Lovely composition. I rarely like Picasso's depictions of women.

  15. I had fun with the drawing toy. Thanks Eric.

  16. I am totally frustrated with Beta and the whole mess. This is my third attempt to leave a comment here. Another case of fixing what didn't need fixing.

  17. Though it's awesome that you can just walk down the street in Paris and find a Picasso, man it's ugly! In my opinion, of course, so please no one blast me for that! Picasso has just never meshed well with my personal tastes...I just find his art unappealing.

    Had a blast with the link, though. I'm gonna see if I can sneak it past the massive firewalls on my work computer!

  18. This reminds me of the wonderful Botero exhibit along the Champs Elysées in, what was it...1992?

  19. thanks for the link. fun !

  20. I've been as far as the corner of the cafe and the church, but never down this way far enough to see the statue. You can never see everything in Paris. Lucky Eric, he'll always have more and more to photograph. And lucky us, we get to keep seeing it all through his eyes.

  21. Stu, a frenchman took me there. I didn't see any Americans. The food made me sick though...maybe it was the unpasturized cheese? LOL...just kidding. It did make me sick though.

    Have a good weekend all!

  22. Oh! And if anyone needs any viagra, there's lots of helpful links on the previous post.

  23. Kim,

    The sculpture is actually of a man, Guillaume Apollinaire - so your record of not liking Picasso's depictions of women remains in tact!

  24. Unless, of course I misunderstood...which is of course a large possibility!

  25. Here's an intriguing letter published in the New York Times:

    Picasso's Insult in Bronze
    Print Save

    Published: August 2, 1997

    To the Editor:

    Re your obituary of the artist Dora Maar (July 26), and Picasso's dismissive treatment of her after their separation:

    In June 1959, my late husband, Francis Steegmuller, attended the unveiling of Picasso's monument to Apollinaire in Paris, near Saint-Germain-des-Pres. (His account of the ceremony appears in later editions of his biography of Apollinaire.) Picasso and the poet were intimate friends from 1904 until Apollinaire's death, from war wounds and illness, in 1918. In remembrance of his friend, Picasso, who was not in attendance, sent a life-size bronze head of Dora Maar, who never knew Apollinaire. The sculpture -- a slight to Picasso's former mistress and to Apollinaire -- was duly installed in the park.

    New York, July 27, 1997


    And there's this:

    From John Harvard To Ramses II; Paris

    Published: September 14, 1997
    She is tucked away, in a small square in Paris, behind the Church of St.-Germain-des-Pres, ignored by the old women chatting on benches, sullied by the pigeons passing overhead, apparently as abandoned as the stone vestiges of a former cloister that litter the grass. Her wide eyes are fixed on the middle distance and, ever since the vener-able bookstore Le Divan was closed last year to make way for a Christian Dior boutique, I have sensed a new defiance to her gaze.

    The bronze bust, by Picasso, is of Dora Maar, his lover and model, the inspiration for many portraits, who died last July. It is dedicated to the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, Picasso's friend, who cast a modern eye on Paris at the start of this waning century.

    Picasso originally had other ideas for a sculpture to commemorate his friend, who, weakened by war wounds, died in 1918 at the age of 38. Taking Apollinaire's lines ''I must sculpt him a statue made of nothing, like poetry and like glory'' as an inspiration, Picasso planned a transparent metallic work in which a human figure was glimpsed amid a constellation of rods inspired by astronomical charts. But a cautious city council turned down the idea in 1928; and, much later, Picasso offered the rather more prosaic bust of his dark-haired muse, which he had made in 1941. It was inaugurated on June 5, 1959.

    Today, the bust scarcely looks like a second choice. Its modest dimensions are belied by a rocklike force, a solemn beauty, that suggest, comfortingly, the Dior store will pass and an eternal Paris, that of Apollinaire's Pont Mirabeau, will remain for those who seek it.

    Correspondent in The Times Paris bureau.

  26. I find the description Sally has provided of Picasso's original design utterly fascinating, and I thank her for going to all the trouble of researching the background story of this sculpture.

    In fact, it seems to justify the city council's initial reticence in 1959. Had it been executed, Picasso's first offering would certainly have been atypical of his work (and not in a good way, either), and far more prosaic than poetic. Even 'Guernica', his most politically engaged piece - not counting those fey doves dashed off for the Communist party and some Goyaesque works painted in protest against the Korean war - is as powerful iconographically as it is ideologically.

    Secondly, Picasso was an inveterate narcissist and just about everything he ever painted, drew, sculpted, or wrote harbours a trace of autobiographical vanity. In this case, he is honouring both Apollonaire (indirectly) and himself (directly) by depicting the woman who was his muse and partner during the middle part of his career (the period, incidentally, when he completed 'Guernica'). On a larger scale, of course, he is paying homage the Muse of Poetry (personified here by Dora Maar), which, since Romanticism, has inevitably been cast as a woman; even though though it was clear from the 'Love and War' exhibition that Maar was also a gifted artist and photographer, and not a mere star f***er (which might, in part, account for Picasso's ill-treatment of her after their separation).

    Finally, it has to be said that this is probably not the most appropriate way of commemorating Apollonaire, but it is certainly suggestive (if not revealing) of Picasso's self-image - which, given the hint of masculinity in this work, may also have contained a streak (possibly conscious, but more probably unconscious) of homoeroticism.

    Thanks again to Sally.

  27. I've had lunch in this square many times a week for 2 years and I've never noticed that this was a picasso sculpture... lol... I should pay more attention to surrounding details!
    You should also post a picture of the nearby church, it's beautiful!

  28. Louis,

    You need to find yourself a lover! Every comment reeks of the need!

  29. Picasso, Picasso, I think many people dislike his work as much as I do but they must say it is sooooo great. The emperors new clothes syndrome still exists.

  30. Anonymous: I've asked my friends to have me committed to a mental asylum the next time I tell them I've found someone I like and am thinking about entering into a relationship with them, so I think I'll just stick to the affair I'm presently having with my work - but thanks all the same.

    Besides, I can't really see how EVERY comment I've contributed to this blog REEKS of such a need: or why I should take advice from someone who offers it anonymously - and, more to the point, unsolicited.

    No offence, but better luck with your next patient, whoever you are.

  31. Very fascinating Sally and Louis. I've too seen this sculpture, but never paid much attention to it. Shall do next time. Louis, lovers are often scorned, so pay no attention to anonymous. It's important to have many loves in one's life, be them people, art, or your blog pals here!

  32. Thanks, Michael.

    As you can probably imagine, I get misinterpreted a lot (and I mean A LOT!), but I am glad to know that I have some non-judgemental pals at PDP; whose comments, by the way, I enjoy reading and responding to whenever the opportunity arises, and whose "voices" are now part of my everyday life.

    Also, it's true what you say about having many loves in one's life, only at the moment I am focusing on developing my career, which needs and deserves my love and attention more than any human I know, and which will be very unforgiving if I am in any way negligent or unfaithful.

    If I get tetchy or defensive from time to time, or wax lyrical on amorous themes, it's not because I am in need of a lover (or just plain sexually frustrated), but because I have a passionate nature and an inquiring heart. What's more, I like to arouse my readers - both physically and emotionally - and to take them places they (and perhaps I) have never been, and this sometimes leads to false assumptions about what I must be like. After all, Kafka didn't have to be an insect to write 'Metamorphosis' and Shakespeare didn't have to be a regicide in order to write 'Macbeth'. Tweaking Carl von Clausewitz, when it comes to the written word, the 'truth' is simply fiction carried on by other means.

  33. Thank goodness the cockroach didn't write metamorphosis...that would be too creepy!

    So what kind of career are you focusing on?

  34. I began as a writer, director and designer for the theatre, and have also had two exhibitions of my artwork, but for the past fifteen years or so - that is, since leaving film school - I have worked as a director (mainly in the fields of advertising and music videos), and occasionally as a script editor, while collaborating with my two partners on the development of a series feature and documentary films (one of which - my favourite, in fact - is set in eighteenth century Europe and based on a well-known book).

    However, after doing some teaching and lecturing lecturing a couple of years ago, I decided to return to university to complete my masters - and, eventually, my PhD in Cinema Studies - which is what I am doing at the moment. This has meant putting on hold my directing work for a few years, although I do small bits of work when I have the time (and, of course, if I like the script, which I rarely do), but this is necessary if I am to fulfil my other great ambition, which is to publish my writing (which currently includes essays on a variety of topics from film to art to philosophy to popular culture, and will one day - I hope - also include books).

    To date, all of my work in film has been made under a pseudonym, but I am considering working under my real name when things start getting serious - assuming they do, that is.

  35. That's really fascinating Louis. Do you think there's a future film in ParisDailyPhoto? LOL Of course, I'm sure Eric wouldn't mind a publishing contact one day! Thanks for "telling all". I now know why you have such a passion and "so many loves" in your life.

  36. Actually, my partners and I have been trying to figure out of there's a documentary project in PDP and its offshoots, but we haven't yet come up with the right angle (although we're all certain there is one to be found). Of course, when we come to France, location scouting for our films, we'll certainly make an appointment to see Eric.

  37. Louis - I found your comments fascinating too.

    This sculpture fascinated me from the first time I saw it, and I too have eaten my lunch there on more than one occasion (separated by the years of interval between trips to Paris!)

    Haxo: I am also tryign to remember somethign about a theft of this piece too....but then I am alsi thinkign it may have been a Picasso painting of a head of a woman (go knows there are enough of them!! Fe4rnande and Dora)

    Actually, I too am not an unewuivocal fan of the Big P's. I came at him thru my interest in the era of Gertrude Stein (of course Pic and Apollinaire being integral members of her circle). My favourite Weeping Woman is one belonging to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. I haven't had the chance to see Guernica (yet), but the exhibition from Picasso Musee/Melbourne has the most wonderful sketches and short film of its making.

    My very favourite 'Picasso setting' however is the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where Picasso and Braques are hung, chronologically, in a single room, depicting an orgasmic fantasia of the whole history of Cubism, right there before your eyes!

    Then, down the street, around the corner, and a good stretch-the-legs walk up tot the metropolitan to see Picasso's Gertrude Stein portrait. "It looks nothing like her" friends were alleged to have claimed. "Ah, but it will!" replied Pablo....and it did!

    (PS I refuse to call Stein, hemingway et al 'The Lost generation'. It wasn;t them taht were lost - it was a phrase coined BY Stein about the generation of men lost to the idiocy of WW1. Still, I think A Moveable Feast is one of my favourite Paris books, alongside The Autobiog of Alice B Toklas. of course! And Janet Flanner's pieces, and, and

  38. Gosh - sorry about all the typos in that rant; hope it makes sense ;-)

  39. The thing I like about this shot Eric is that I really want to walk around to the front of it. I can't explain why, but it draws me to want to peak around the nose.

  40. Ah your pictures makes me nostalgic for my France. I had been a few times to Les Magots but I didn't know the statue was so close. Lynne was right about the UK. I am living in London and notice that things get vandelised. A huge bronze sculpture, possibly by Rodin, was stolen to be melted down for the value of the metal. Tragic. I will keep coming back for more sights.


  41. Yes, such things make me want to leave the UK. It says something about our society if people will do this sort of thing so easily and without conscience.

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