Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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David Douglas Duncan


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Follow link for an enlarged imagePicasso Paints a Portrait (1996) / view images from this book

From the book jacket text:
For seventeen years, internationally acclaimed photographer David Douglas Duncan was a trusted friend of Pablo Picasso and his family. He took thousands of photographs of the artist, inside his studio-homes, and of his then-unknown canvases — Picasso's Picassos.

Now, in Picasso Paints a Portrait, Duncan reveals his unprecedented photojournalistic coup: capturing the legendary Spanish master as he created a constantly changing oil-on-canvas portrait of Jacqueline, his companion and future wife.

These historic pictures were selected from hundreds taken in two days at Villa La Californie on the French Riviera, the center of Picasso's world in 1957. There, the 76-year-old Picasso and Duncan stood virtually shoulder-to-shoulder in the midsummer heat, surrounded by the artist's canvases, collages, and metal-flanged sculptures . . . one man painting, the other photographing. They rarely exchanged a word.

Duncan presents his pictures without captions. The elegant preface and two pages of intimate "Memories" share the photographer's thoughts as he watched his genius neighbor at work. No museum curator, or art historian, was ever allowed closer to Picasso for such endless hours while he was painting. Page by page, David Douglas Duncan unfolds his extraordinary photo-biography of one portrait — with Pablo Picasso, himself, as its silent but most eloquent narrator.