From the Life

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"All this takes place on a hilly island in the Mediterranean," Picasso said. "Like Crete. That's where the minotaurs live, along the coast. They're the rich Seigneurs of the island. They know they're monsters, and they live, like dandies and dilettantes everywhere, the kind of existence that reeks of decadence in houses filled with works of art by the most fashionable painters and sculptors .... A minotaur keeps his women lavishly but he reigns by terror and they're glad to see him killed." ... He turned to another print, a minotaur watching over a sleeping woman. "He's studying her, trying to read her thoughts," he said, "trying to decide whether she loves him because he's a monster." He looked up at me. "Women are odd enough for that, you know." He looked down at the etching again. "It's hard to say whether he wants to wake her or kill her," he said. Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake: Life with Picasso


I was the gypsy sleepingunder a desert moonwhite-bellied as the mandolinbeside me on the dune.

The wind that stirred my rainbow dresswas no wind but the breathof some beast with my father's eyesand the smell of death.


In the room above the studiohe freed me from my dressand tossing it over a chairstood back and said "Yes.

Incredible how accuratelyI had prefigured your form."Afterwards on the bed,his touch was warm

but distant: sculptor's handsabout their business findwhether their handiworkis ready to be signed.


Outside the studio,after dark one could seeboys building barricades;inside the studio,after Liberationthe Fruits of Victory --tinned peaches, hams, one daya G.I.'s rum rationand a crate of grenadesinscribed "To Picassofrom Hemingway."


After Cézanne's Applesand with their sculpted weight,Picasso's Pineapplesshadow a blue-rimmed plate.

Objets Trouvés? Still Life?Each in its fissured skinimpervious to the knife.To peel one, pull the pin.


That's my last mistress on the easel. Icall her "The Fallen Picador" -- and why?She lived ten years with the minotaurand deserved to leave with the honours of war,so when Vallauris last July declaredme president of the corrida, I sharedthe honours with her. Seeing that the bullwas my symbol, the horse her symbol,what end could be more fitting than that theyshould face each other in a ritual way --life imitating art, a masterpieceof living theatre? When I took my placein the president's box and raised my hand,she was the first out, scattering sandand with the hooves of her passaging horsedetermining my picture's lines of force.She circled the arena, reined in, bowedto me as president, and read aloudthe proclamation in my honour. Thenrode from the ring, leaving the bulls and mento face their deaths. There were no horses killedthat day, but ever since my dreams are filledwith goring. The result you see. Had sheremained, unchanged, the girl who posed for mein the light of Liberation, herswould be a face the world remembers,a daughter of the sun, instead of thisnightmare metamorphosisof woman into horse: familiar headand satin flank, the bull's head garlandedwith entrails. But enough of her.Here's something that I fancy you'll prefer --a necklace. Let me help. Look how your skinirradiates my metal from within.It fits that hollow better than its mould,my bull's horned head Chataganier cast in gold.

© Stallworthy Jon