Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup
Search Collections

David Douglas Duncan

Books

previous / index / next

Follow link for an enlarged imagePicasso and Jacqueline (1988) / view images from this book

From the book jacket text:
This book documents creativity and the daily atmosphere in which it was born. Originally, it was to be called Forgotten Picassos based upon the artist's ceramics, neglected by most museum curators and art historians.

David Douglas Duncan spent a year refining the book's photo-concept and design. Then at Frankfurt's International Book Fair he found worldwide co-publishers for the project. He left Germany for his home on the French Riviera to share his good news with Jacqueline, the still-grieving widow of Pablo Picasso who had died thirteen years earlier. Duncan and Jacqueline had been friends for thirty years, since the first day when Duncan met Picasso, who was in the bathtub! The ceramics book was to he dedicated to Jacqueline, but Duncan returned too late. She had shot herself the same night that he arrived.

Duncan abandoned Forgotten Picassos. After another year and a half of re-editing his thousands of Picasso photographs and redesigning layouts, he wrote textblocks for a new book — this book. He then went to the famed Mondadori presses of Verona, Italy — the stage for Shakespeare's classic, Romeo and Juliet. Today, Duncan has now told another epic love story, Picasso and Jacqueline, which is unique among the ageless tales of sacrificial love — the difference being photography. And it opens when Picasso was already a legendary conqueror of his artistic world, where he and his heroine were so free and secure, so alone yet complete by themselves, that no barriers were ever raised to protect their secret world from the lens of Duncan's omnipresent camera.

Like Lump, their always-probing dachshund, or the very air of the studio itself, Duncan was simply accepted — free to photograph Picasso without restraint; while he painted on canvas, made ceramics, created sheet-steel portraits, or suddenly erupted with youthful joie-de-vivre and equally abruptly sank into his inaccessible artistic daydreams . . . always sheltered by Jacqueline's selfless adoration and concern, which in the end took her life.

Picasso and Jacqueline is one of those rare documents that humanizes genius at work while exposing the sometimes fearsome price exacted of one who dares to love in such an environment. For Jacqueline, the cost was of no consequence. A dream fulfilled was her reward.