“Come on, we’ll have a painter’s life.” That was the proposal that Picasso put to Édouard Pignon (1905-1993) in the early 1950s. The multiple encounters, exchanges, conversations and shared stays in Vallauris, Cannes, Vauvenargues or Mougins made the two men very intimate, linked to the end by an unfailing friendship that was otherwise nurtured by a four-way relationship: Pignon and his wife Hélène Parmelin, and Picasso and his wife Jacqueline.
As underscored by Pierre Daix, the young painter Édouard Pignon “drew inspiration for new freedoms and high ambitions from his elder while knowing how to evade his domination”. In that relationship, Picasso found the fervour of exchanges on painting that he had experienced in the past.
Thus far dealt with in a superficial or caricatural manner only, the relationship between the two artists – seductive and inevitably complex – needs to be addressed in a methodical way. It necessarily goes beyond the shortcuts that have been taken to it. The first stage involves compiling the different documentary sources (biographies of Picasso, press articles, texts on Pignon) in order to extract elements from them that are able to shed light on this relationship, as mentioned by the protagonists of the story themselves:
“His friendship is the gold of my life, his vitality is a source of life. He continues more than ever to be linked to all the research of his time.” Pignon
“I am, perhaps, the only person to have understood the boldness of his painting.” Picasso