Patrick O'Brian's outstanding biography of Picasso is here available in paperback for the first time. It is the most comprehensive yet written, and the only biography fully to appreciate the distinctly Mediterranean origins of Picasso's character and art.
Everything about Picasso, except his physical stature, was on an enormous scale. No painter of the first rank has been so awe-inspiringly productive. No painter of any rank has made so much money. A few painters have rivaled his life span of ninety years, but none has attracted so avid, so insatiable, a public interest.
Patrick O'Brian knew Picasso sufficiently well to have a strong sense of his personality. The man that emerges from this scholarly, passionate, and brilliantly written biography is one of many contradictions: hard and tender, mean and generous, affectionate and cold, private despite the relish of his fame. In his later years he professed communism, yet in O'Brian's view retained to the end of his life a residual Catholic outlook.
Not that such matters were allowed to interfere with his vigorous sensuality. Sex and money, eating and drinking, friends and quarrels, comedies and tragedies, suicides and wars tumble one another in the vast chaos of his experience. he was "a man almost as lonely as the sun, but one who glowed with much the same fierce, burning life." It is with that impression of its subject that this book leaves its readers.