Picasso-Zervos, the artist and his publisher

Going up the hill that leads to the Basilica of the Madeleine, the visitor quickly arrives in front of the Zervos museum, a former house inhabited by the writer Romain Rolland (1). It would be wrong not to go inside to admire the permanent collections and, every summer, discover the current exhibition. In connection with the activities of the critic and art publisher Christian Zervos (1889-1970) who moved with his wife Yvonne in the vicinity of Vézelay at the end of the 1930s, they illustrate the wide range of his relationships, the role eminent that he played with many painters but also writers and poets and his commitment via the magazine and the gallery The art books, installed rue du Dragon in Paris.

Protean Picasso

This summer, the museum offers its picture rails to the ogre Picasso, whose catalog Christian Zervos undertook to publish in 1929 – the first volume will appear in 1932. Engravings, including a stunning Minotauromachie (1935) where the artist pushes the technique of etching and the treasures of his imagination to their ultimate limits, drawings, oils … the supports are as diverse as the line is done in the antique (Naked Woman with Minotaur, 1933), cheerfully stylized (Portrait of Jacqueline in a Straw Hat, 1962) or post-cubist.

Like this amazing Farmer elongated where we find, transposed on the female body, the landscape of Vézelay such as Picasso, accompanied by Dora Maar, discovered it in the spring of 1938. ” The two feet represent the two roads of which the one on the left leads to Clamecy and the one on the right to Avallon … », Specifies Christian Zervos in the 9th volume of his Picasso catalog. A few pictures taken in the streets of the village bear witness to the painter’s visit to the Yonne, very elegantly and cautiously dressed – suit, tie, overcoat and scarf.

New youth

The bonds between the two men weaken after the war when Picasso separates from Dora Maar, Christian Zervos taking the side of the latter. Another woman, Jacqueline Roque, will orchestrate their reunion fifteen years later. The primary colors then explode on the works of the master sober (?) Who feeds his creative appetite for the discovery (from the mid-1950s) of linocut, a delicate handling process that allows him to throw on a single matrix the all of its colors. ” Pablo serious but he is very cheerful, writes Jacqueline to her ” ami Zervos On October 26, 1966. It is impossible to believe in his 85 years … »

At the end of the tour, in a somewhat secluded alcove, some delightful pieces from the erotic series Raphael and the Fornarina (1968) may not be suitable for younger museum visitors. Incisive, full of humor, incredibly virtuoso and just as explicit, the line caresses the bodies of the painter and his mistress immersed in carnal delights. Dazzling!


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