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Pablo Picasso Analysis

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Although there are several biographies of Picasso for young readers, none reveals the massive contradictions within him that were so much a part of his art as well as Lyttle’s study. The book is an honest portrayal of an artistic genius who was not necessarily a good person. He was driven to express himself through art just as he was, apparently, driven to sleep with an endless string of women. Picasso is shown to be an excellent representative of Sigmund Freud’s theories of artistic expression and how they are tied to sexual desires.

As Lyttle states in the brief introduction, the book is an attempt to show the complexity of the individual in the hopes of beginning to understand the complexity of his work. While detailing the facts, Lyttle dispels the myths about Picasso. For example, he points out that Picasso did not, as was later said, begin life by gasping from the cigar smoke from his father’s brother. The author goes beyond simple factual correctness, however, to a constant probing of Picasso’s psyche and personality. He finds possible stimuli for the genius to come even in Picasso’s childhood, suggesting that Don José, Picasso’s father, exhibited the daring to experiment in his own artwork, perhaps passing this love on to Picasso. Lyttle suggests that Picasso found the art discussions between his father and other artistic friends “fascinating,” claiming that Picasso’s parents “knew at once that their son was a prodigy.”

In this way, the biography, though accurately reporting the facts of his life, becomes far more interesting as an exploration of Picasso’s mind—his personality traits (some of which can be seen even at a young age), his love of bullfights, his distaste for school, and his compulsion to draw. The book explains how he was able to absorb the many movements in art, bring them together, and rearrange them into powerful new expressions.

Lyttle stresses that Picasso’s personality and his art cannot be separated; an exploration of one cannot be complete without an exploration of the other. Therefore, the biography is a chronological story of the facts of Picasso’s life, an exploration of his personality and creative powers, and a discussion of his artwork.

The facts of Picasso’s life are correct and detailed enough to provide an accurate account of his life and to place him in the context of the times in which he lived. For example, the author keeps the reader aware of the important political events surrounding Picasso by discussing Europe’s collision course with World War I, a time when the entire continent was plunging into chaos and no one knew how to stop the inevitable. Picasso did not fight in the war, but it resulted in his split with Braque, (who did go fight), brought an end to cubism as a driving force, and left him disconsolate. Lyttle describes what a lonely time this was for Picasso, who was uncomfortable being a civilian in the company of...

(The entire section is 755 words.)