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Simplicity at heart of Picasso's charm

Picasso's One-Liners
Picasso's One-Liners
By Pablo Picasso

Artisan: 1997

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This review first appeared in the November 15-16, 1997 American Reporter.

It's a cute, little book. Fun. Nothing particularly heavy, not even all that intellectual. Yes, it's a collection of Picasso – but of his "one-liners," drawings he made without ever lifting his pen or pencil (or chalk or crayon or ...) from the surface. One line, one drawing.

Interspersed through the 55 drawings are a few of Picasso's "other" one-liners: aphorisms and sayings. There's not many, so sharing more than one here would be unfair, but to not share any would make it impossible to relate the great artist's simple humor and insight: "If you know exactly what you're going to do, what's the sense of doing it?"

The four and a half dozen drawings range from the very simple to the wonderfully ornate, in style from Picasso's patented look to a near rip-off of Matisse. Subjects range from birds to ancient mythology to harlequin to jazz musicians. What they all share is a sense of fun, a complete lack of pretension.

The introduction by Susan Grace Galassi is not nearly as fun or light as Picasso's drawings – she takes herself too seriously. But she knows her stuff about Picasso, and what she shares helps put his drawings into context.

As mentioned, this is a small book – perfect for wasting a rainy afternoon.