Tuesday, June 2, 2009

romantic hideaway

A moonlit bedroom in Provence, the window is open to let the warm air flow through. A homey image to stir the romantic memories of times shared there. This illustration was part of a letter, but the text supposed "compromising" has been erased.

I came across these pictures in the American edition of House and Garden from October 1987. I was struck by the lengthy articles and in depth information to be found. American and British magazines are always more ambitiously expansive than their French counterparts, but in these days, it was even more the case. The article by John Richardson that accompanies the pictures carries the titillating title Picasso's Secret Love and it tells the story of the lost year in Picasso's liaisons amoureuses, 1915-16. Decidedly, there could have been no respite in this domain for Picasso; there had to be a woman on the scene and at that moment, it was Gabrielle (Depeyre)Lespinasse. Wedged between Eva Gouel and Olga Kokhlova, she was never heard of until the 1950s when she sold some of the artwork he had given her. Not much of her relationship with Picasso is known even today.
The letters and paintings are touching, naive. In our world where everything becomes more clever and sophisticated just to survive, these gentle, almost childish declarations from the great and godly Picasso astonish. "Don't be sad," he scratches in blue ink and encourages her "to take your mind off things by looking at the little dining room. I will be so happy with you."

Je t'aime de toutes les couleurs. The simple surroundings must have been their haven of love.
JE T'AIME JE T'AIME JE T'AIME... in six different colors.

The belle Gaby shown in profile.

A collage commemorating their love. The inscription shows how serious Picasso was about Gaby. "I have asked the good lord for your hand." At 35 Picasso had never expressed faith in God nor a desire to be married. Their interlacing names, a calligraphic embrace. Did Picasso ever have anyone who called him by his first name?

Gaby Depeyre was promised to another and went on her own way to marry him. Lespinasse was an American painter-engraver. The lack of details known about Gaby and Picasso's affair speaks well of the discretion of all those concerned.

A country hide away belonging to my friend Catherine.

A place to escape the driving city beat and to get back in touch with the earth. Especially important for Catherine, who gave up a beautiful apartment to live with her amoureux in a peniche (houseboat) on the Seine.

This house in Normandy has since been renovated, but all the poetic simplicity is still intact. It's a matter of understanding a place. Everything doesn't have to be sophisticated. We need contrasts in this life.

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