Anna Perera

Picasso’s lives: Josep Palau i Fabre and the pureness of the biographical essay

Saturday April 29 – Session 09 @ Hotel Colón

The communication aims to provide an analysis of the book Picasso’s Lives by Josep Palau i Fabre, good and proposing to what extent a biographical essay like this can aspire to be considered “pure”. Picasso’s Lives is the first work that Palau wrote about Picasso.  He did so in Paris during the spring of 1946, just after settling down in the French capital, the period in which the artist self-defined “self-exile”.  Palau, however, didn’t meet Picasso personally until May 1947.  Therefore, the subtitle of the work is surprising, «Essay of pure biography», given that Picasso’s Lives had been written prior to the biographer and its subject knowing each other.  Nevertheless, the interest of Palau in the work of Picasso dates back a long way.   

In this first book, which wasn’t published for the first time until 1962, Palau proposes approaching the work of Picasso, as well as his personality and his creative process, which ends up anyway in the work, based on the personal and subjective view of the artist.  By means of fifteen chapters which were very different between them, Palau offers a kaleidoscopic and labyrinthine tour around the work of Picasso. In this way, Palau tried to represent in a literary way some of the essential conceptions that can be found behind the work of the artist.   In this regard, the formal and thematic disparity of Picasso’s Lives turns the book into a literary expression of the figure and work of Picasso.  And, at the same time, Picasso’s Lives subtly highlights some of the essential conceptions that can be found in the background of the work of Palau i Fabra himself: the “purity” with which the book was written, reveals some of the conceptions of Palau about literary and artistic creation.  Conceptions that, to a certain extent, emerge from the work itself of Picasso.  Therefore, Picasso’s Lives is also an example of the desire for assimilation, alienation, of the biographer Palau i Fabre towards the subject of the biography, Picasso.

Anna Perera

Researcher, Universitat de Girona

Degree in Catalan Philology and Master’s Degree in Humanities Research, in 2015, she gained her PhD at the University of Girona with the thesis Eroticism in the Catalan poetry of the 20th century: Joan Salvat-Papasseit, Josep Palau i Fabre and Gabriel Ferrater. She has dedicated a large part of her research on the work of Palau i Fabre, as demonstrated by the articles  «The invisible reader: mimesis and otherness in the literary work of Josep Palau i Fabre», «Poetry (1944-1945), the first clandestine magazine in Catalan» and «Eroticism in Cancer (1946) by Josep Palau i Fabre». She is currently working in the Professorship of Literary Heritage Anglada – Fages of the University of Girona and forms part of the research group of literary heritage of the same university.

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