Picasso's Poetry of the 1930's
If you've found this site useful, we'd really appreciate a small donation to help with the hosting costs. Thanks!
Some of Picasso's poetry from the 1930's appears to be directly related the 1934 drawing, at times the degree of correspondence is striking, there are even suggestions in some of the poems that Picasso may have been referring to the drawing itself. Because of their private and surrealistic nature the poems are at the best of times difficult to interpret with confidence:
In his book about Guernica, Prof. Hershel Chipp quotes the art historian Jose Barrio-Garay's interpretation of Picasso's 1935 poems.
'...Barrio Garay notes a figure he identifies as Marie-Thérèse, portrayed by Picasso as a jaca or young female horse, 'a nude lion masquerading as a bullfighter' and 'a woman with long blonde hair who is confined behind an iron door and hides her shame under a tablecloth'.
He goes on:
'Although she gets the painter out of trouble, she is 'the target of obscene insults' and is ultimately reduced to the miserable state of the wounded horse in the bullfight, 'making the round of the ring bleeding and dragging its guts.'
In the 1934 drawing the figure on the left, Marie-Therese, appears to personify the wounded horse in the bullfight. The 'U' shaped darts stabbing into her shoulder and neck appear to originate from the cache of similar shapes behind Olga's back. The 'U' shaped darts seem also to symbolise the 'obscene insults' in the poems, they are also suggestive of the banderillos thrown at the bull's neck during the bullfight. The transposition of the bull and horse is typical of Picasso's work of the 1930's. The identification of the horse with Marie-Thérèse is reinforced by the silhouette of a horse's head below her shoulder and her distorted left arm which is itself reminiscent of a horse's leg. The 'Z" running through her eyes and cutting into her neck symbolises the blindfolding and the cutting of the horse's vocal chords prior to the corrida.
The 'Z' is also part of a concealed 'Picazzo' signature, there is a second 'Z' hidden under the neck of the figure on the right. The symbolic silencing of the horse by one of the 'magical' letters of Picasso's name refers to the secretive relationship Picasso had with Marie-Thérèse prior to the birth of their daughter Maya in 1935. Her blackened eyes in the drawing allude to her 'shame' and demise in the poems.
In his interpretation, Barrio-Garay mentions that Marie-Thérèse, 'hides her shame under a tablecloth'. In the drawing her left hand disappears under her dress in the area of her loins ('hiding her shame') her dress may even represent the poem's 'tablecloth' wrapped around her. The vertical post and horizontal lines above and to the right of her represent a barrera with perhaps an added allusion to the poem's 'iron door.'
The following is a list of corresponding imagery between the 1934 drawing and Picasso's poem of 1935:
The eye of the Bull
Based on a translation commissioned in 1992.
In a study entitled 'Picasso et la corrida', published in 1991, the French art historian, M.L. Bernadac refers to associated imagery in Picasso's art and poetry. The following extract relates to a theatre curtain and the conflict between the bull and horse in the context of a never ending drama captured in a mysterious black painting that seems to have gone missing:
The bull's horn opens the gourd of old wine of the horse's stomach and the cave which lights up the oil of his blood splashes the curtains with his entrails mixing in the threads of the theatre curtain the illusion of the drama taking place. (Poem dated 2.2.36) - Translated from Bernadac, page 69.
The never ending link of the black painting on waxed canvas unnailed from the frame, enveloping the drama under it's folds. (poem dated 11.2.37) - Translated from Bernadac, Page 70.
In Gertrude Stein's book, 'Picasso', published in 1938, there is another possible reference to the drawing that the author may have mistakenly associated with collage:
'Later he used to say quite often, paper lasts quite as well and after all if it all ages together, why not, and he said further, after all, later, no one will see the picture, they will see the legend of the picture, the legend that the picture has created, then it makes no difference if the picture lasts or does not last. Later they will restore it, a picture lives by it's legend, not by anything else.' Stein, page 27.
There is a very similar remark on page 40 of Brassai's book, 'Picasso and Co.'
© Mark Harris 1996
Next Section: Symbolism in the 1934 Drawing
© Mark Harris 1996 (content), Simon Banton 1996 (design)
In general copyright of works by Pablo Picasso are the property of the heirs to the Pablo Picasso estate