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SPECIAL ARTICLES

THE DEATH OF CASAGEMAS: EARLY PICASSO, THE BLUE PERIOD, MORTALITY, AND REDEMPTION
David J. Chalif, M.D.
Department of Neurosurgery, North Shore University Hospital, North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System, Manhasset, New York Reprint requests: David J. Chalif, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, North Shore University Hospital, 9 Tower, 300 Community Drive, Manhasset, NY 11030. EMail: DChalif@nshs.edu Received, July 13, 2006. Accepted, January 26, 2007.

PABLO PICASSO CREATED the posthumous memorial painting, The Death of Casagemas, in 1901 in Paris. The Catalan artist, Carles Casagemas, was a constant companion of Picasso during his formative years in bohemian and “modernista” Barcelona and accompanied Picasso on his seminal first trip to Paris at the turn-of-the-century. Casagemas’ suicide, the result of a failed romance, in Paris in 1901 was a seismic event for the young Picasso and, to an extent, gave impetus to the origins of the artist’s melancholy Blue Period. In his Blue Period paintings, Picasso continually attempted to exorcise the pain and guilt he experienced as a result of the death of Carles Casagemas; this struggle with mortality, human suffering, and pain was a constant theme throughout the continuing decades of Picasso’s art. Many of his Blue Period works deal both directly and allegorically with these conflicts. Throughout his life, Picasso sought redemption from the issues of human mortality by creating a vast world of sexuality, strength, and virility. The specter of death, and his need for redemption and survival, haunted Picasso into his 90s. The Death of Casagemas is an illustration, in oil, of Picasso’s origins, as well as the tensions and struggles that would give rise to the paintings of the Blue Period and beyond.
KEY WORDS: Art, Barcelona, Blue period, Mortality, Paris, Picasso, Redemption
Neurosurgery 61:404–417, 2007
DOI: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000255482.80697.80

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Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation, it’s a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires. When I came to that realization, I knew I had found my way. — Pablo Picasso

O

n a cold winter’s night, on February 17, 1901 in Paris, a group of seven friends gathered for a farewell dinner at the Café de L’Hippodrome on the Boulevard de Clichy in Montmarte. The group was composed of poor Catalan expatriates, poets and painters living in Paris, and a young French seductress, Germaine Gargallo. The conversation was heated. The wine and absinthe flowed while dinner was completed. A member of the group, 20-year-old Carles Casagemas, stood up with resolve. He pleaded for the last time to the beautiful Germaine for her affection and her hand in marriage. Casagemas, a Catalan poet, painter, anarchist, and probable narcotic addict and manic-depressive was again rebuffed. It was over; letters and suicide notes spilled from his pocket as he pulled out a revolver, aimed it at Germaine, and fired. She dove under the table and the blast hit the café wall. Thinking he had murdered the object of his obsession, he put the gun to the right side of his head at point blank range and

pulled the trigger, crying out “This one is for me!” The police were summoned and the critically wounded Spaniard was rushed, still alive, to a local pharmacy and then to the Hôpital Bichot in Montmarte, where he died at 11:30 PM (4, 7, 17). The tragedy of the 20-year-old’s death resonated across the Pyrenees back to Spain. Legend has it that the mother of Carles Casagemas died instantly of shock when she heard the news in Barcelona. The horror of the suicide also made its way to a young Spanish painter in Madrid who had been the daily companion and confidant of the dead Catalan for the previous 2 years. The events echoed in the mind of this young artist and he became haunted by grief, guilt, responsibility, the specter of death, and his own need for redemption and absolution. He tried desperately to internalize this horror but, back in Paris several months later, it detonated with explosive van Gogh-like brush strokes and intense colors in The Death of Casagemas (Fig. 1). The painting, completed from imagination, memory, and angst, recreates the morgue in Montmarte on that fateful February night. The flesh of Casagemas is green-hued, the oversized funeral candle glows in memorial, and the powder burns and entry wound are still raw. The creator of this work was continually haunted by the cycle of life and death, sexuality, and mortality. The seeds of creation had begun to germinate; at 19 years old, Pablo Ruiz Picasso had just returned to Paris.

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encompassing everything from puppets to posters . . . modernism is in essence an intellectual, literary and artistic movement with its own language, culture and history” (17, p 110). The Spanish modernist movement was strongly influenced by previous groundbreaking Parisian art and modern French culture. Catalan modernism encompassed painting, sculpture, furniture, interior design, graphic design, and illustration. Laminated iron and industrial glass mosaics were all incorporated into a sensuous style marked by Nordic and folklore influences. The exuberant architecture of the period, epitomized by Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, displays a gothic influence, a sparkling modern splendor and a decadent excess. Barcelona was a boiling cauldron of FIGURE 1. The Death of Casagemas, Paris, 1901, oil on panel, 27 cm 35 cm, courtesy of Musée Picasso, Paris, France. creation, a Catalan version of the French art nouveau mixed As both a painting and a historical document, The Death of with a young and powerful vision, paralleling the concurrent Casagemas is critical in the understanding of Picasso’s roots in rapid industrialization of Europe. Pierre Daix, Picasso’s friend turn-of-the-century Barcelona and his formative early visits to and biographer, referred to the city as “a seething brew of ideas Paris in 1900 and 1901. The canvas is one of the first that illuand experiences” (2, p 14). minates Picasso’s constant preoccupation with death and At the epicenter of this whirlwind of creativity was a boheredemption, a thematic river that would run well into his last mian cabaret and meeting place founded in 1897: The Four decade. Finally, it was the suicide of the deteriorated, depenCats, or Els Quatre Gats in Catalan. Located in a breathtaking dant, and neurotic Carles Casagemas that, to a large measure, modernist building, The Casa Marti, Els Quatre Gats, modeled gave genesis to Picasso’s melancholy Blue Period. Decades after Le Chat Noir, the famous Parisian cabaret, was at once a later, Picasso reflected back and admitted that “it was thinking tavern, restaurant, and forum for performers, poets, theater of Casagemas’ death that started me painting in blue” (10, p productions, and puppet shows. Of ultimate importance, it was 47). The Death of Casagemas was hidden from the outside world a place for exchange, conversation, verbal dueling, and enlightby Picasso; over the course of his life, through poverty, wealth enment. It was to Els Quatre Gats that the 17-year-old Pablo and fame, world wars, mistresses, wives, studios, villas and Picasso gravitated. It was here that he left the academia of chateaus, this exorcism in oil was kept privately sequestered. Madrid behind. It was here, from February 1899 until the fall of He was never able to release the canvas or separate from the 1900, that he met and quickly surpassed the “modernista” profound psychological impact of the violent event that took artists of the day. It was here that he discussed Neitzche, place in Montmarte in the winter of 1901. Schopenhauer, Verlaine, Ibsen, Munch, and politics while developing a draftsmanship of great range and power. It was Barcelona and Els Quatre Gats: 1898–1900 here that the first two “Picasso Exhibitions” were installed. It was among the “bande Catalane” of Els Quatre Gats that he conIn the late 1800s, Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city and versed with life-long confidants Jaime Sabartés and Manuel the capital of Catalonia, was the seat of Spanish modernism. In Pallarès; and it was in Els Quatre Gats and the brothels and sor1888, a Universal Exposition was held in Barcelona, leading to did alleys of the Barrio Chino of Barcelona that Picasso bonded a subsequent explosion of “modernista” avant garde art, literawith the young artist and dreamer, Carles Casagemas. ture, and architecture. John Richardson, Picasso’s renowned In the summer of 1898, Picasso sought the warmth of the biographer, defines Spanish modernism as “a style as vague as Catalonian countryside to recover from a bout of scarlet fever. its label. It can best be described as Catalan art nouveau with In Horta de Ebro at the farm of friend, Manuel Pallarès, overtones of symbolism; it is also very eclectic and diverse,

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Picasso, at 17 years of age, worked the rural earth, lived in mountain caves, tended to the animals, and painted warm landscapes outdoors while breathing the clear Pyrenean air. He became fluent in Catalan, the native tongue. His relationship with Pallarès lasted a lifetime. Picasso felt at peace in the Catalonian countryside and would later proclaim that “all that I know I learned in Pallarès’ village” (2, p 12; 17, p 99). Pallarès would become part of his circle in Barcelona and Paris in the years ahead; furthermore, Pallarès became psychologically tied to Picasso for life as he sat alongside Casagemas on the night of the suicide in Paris in 1901. Picasso welcomed his yearly visits on the French Riviera when both men were well into their 80s, perhaps as a final connection to Casagemas and to the friends and youth that were buried beneath the years and the fame. Along with his return to his family in Barcelona in 1899, Picasso was drawn to the bohemian Els Quatre Gats and the young Andalusian slowly became the focal point of the group of artists and intellectuals who frequented the establishment (3). It was here that Picasso met the young artist and “decadente” Carles Casagemas, and they became inseparable for almost 2 years. A year older than Picasso, Casagemas was self-destructive and addicted to alcohol and narcotics. He was fervent about Catalonia and social issues, and was a self-proclaimed anarchist. Haunted by manic depression, mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and impotence, Casagemas visited the brothels with Picasso and friends, but was unable to indulge. Years later, perhaps in a quest to absolve his own guilt, Picasso claimed that the autopsy of the dead Casagemas revealed an anatomic basis for his impotence. Whatever the truth, the young Catalan remained a morbid and psychiatrically disabled man who had attached to the blossoming Picasso. Casagemas and Picasso were seldom apart, and Casagemas became infatuated with Picasso’s persona, art, and ascent. “Casagemas was charming and bright but incurably self-destructive: one of those weak demanding people who cannot survive without a friend to cling to. For the next eighteen months, Picasso was fated to be this friend…” (17, p 118). One of the founders of Els Quatre Gats and a member of Picasso’s circle, Ramon Casas, was an “older” accomplished artist whose works greatly impressed the young Picasso (14). Initially, Picasso began to emulate the style of Casas; but, like a rocket leaving the earth’s atmosphere, he quickly burned through its layers and soon surpassed its gravitational field. At first, Picasso created modernist commercial art, including posters, menus, and newspaper illustrations. But during those 18 months Picasso spent in Barcelona, his talent began to explode. He digested and absorbed all of the art around him, synthesizing it into his own: “Picasso [was] driven by extraordinary curiosity and enthusiasm of youth. From the onset he was on equal footing with his seniors—”masters” like Rusinol, Casas, and Miguel Utrillo…with astonishing speed his work became better than theirs [and he] developed a larger vision…he was the ruler of his intimate circle. He was, simultaneously, a solitary, entirely possessed by his art, and a group leader, obliged to calm the anguish of his peers—an anguish that his genius provoked” (2, p 14). It was during this

period that Picasso’s Catalan friends began calling him by his mother’s somewhat unusual Italian-sounding name rather than by his father’s commonplace name, Ruiz. The artist’s signature changed; Pablo Ruiz Picasso or P. Ruiz Picasso became Picasso. His drawings from this period are striking psychological profiles of his subjects. With a sure line and bold strokes, Self Portrait of 1900 is a riveting view (Fig. 2). What is laid bare, the restless mind of the 19-year-old or that of the viewer? Picasso’s watercolor of himself and Casagemas illustrates their relationship. Intense and contemplative, Picasso is pondering his fate while clutching his blue sketchbook. Casagemas is by his side, narcotized and lost (Fig. 3). One can almost postulate that Casagemas’ psychological collapse and suicide are predicted in this drawing. The first paintings of another forum of death, the bullfight, also emerged in Barcelona during this period, and in several of these, we see a gored and mortally wounded horse. Death in the arena and death anticipated began to fill the mind of the young artist. A landmark event occurred for Picasso in February of 1900. At the urging of his confidants, Sabartés, Pallarès, Casagemas, and others, Picasso’s first solo exhibition was mounted at Els

FIGURE 2. Self Portrait, Barcelona, 1900, charcoal on paper, 22.5 cm 16.5 cm, courtesy of Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain.

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with photographic realism enhanced with a probing psychological view. He included his own self portrait, entitled Yo, as if to announce his ego, his arrival, and his burgeoning persona. Three oils were included in the show, one of which, Last Moments, painted in 1899, was selected as one of the Spanish paintings to be shown in Paris at the celebration of the new century, the Exposition Universelle. This large-scale work most probably depicted the death bed of a dying patient, a female nude with a priest in attendance. Today, we are only able to view this image of mortality through preparatory sketches and radiographic analysis of a later classic Blue Period work, La Vie, painted in 1903, the posthumous allegorical portrait of Casagemas. Obviously an enormous event for the teenage Picasso, the selection of Last Moments set the stage for his first trip to Paris. In October 1900, he stepped down from the train in Paris at the bustling new Gare d’Orsay to conquer the world. By his side, dressed in a new suit of black corduroy, was Carles Casagemas.

First Trip to Paris: 1900
The two Catalan expatriates, soon joined by Pallarès and others, encountered a metropolis that was the brilliant center of a new century. All roads, artistic and architectural, led to Paris in 1900; for an aspiring and ambitious 19-year-old artist, it was the center of the universe. One can imagine that Picasso did not know where to turn first: to the Louvre, to works of the Impressionists and Toulouse-Lautrec, to the Cézannes in the gallery of Ambroise Vollard, to the low seedy bars and whorehouses on the Place Pigalle, or, perhaps, to the somewhat more sophisticated and famous dancehall, Moulin de la Galette, in Montmarte. The Exposition Universelle was a World’s Fair designed to celebrate modernity and pave the way to the 20th century. With its remarkable Grand Palais, Petit Palais, new train stations, Palais de l’Electricitie, escalators, motion pictures, and five million attendees, the Exposition was the centerpiece of a city alive with artistic and sexual passion. How all of this must have exploded in the mind of the young Picasso, and to have his own Last Moments, a chronicle of death and mortality, displayed in this supreme city of light and art certainly must have been an absolute confirmation of his own vision. The Mecca of modernity, Paris was even more cosmopolitan than Barcelona. Picasso knew this city, and only this city, would be the place where he would prosper. Picasso and Carles Casagemas arrived in Paris on approximately October 15, 1900 and eventually settled in the vacated Montmarte studio of Isidre Nonell, another Catalan émigré. “La Butte” de Montmarte represented a “border” country and a “separate village” from Paris, replete with windmills and farms, and it was here that the young Picasso took refuge with his Catalan expatriates (2). He would end up spending the greater part of the next decade in this district; in its ramshackle studios, cabarets, dancehalls, circuses, theaters, bars, and dives, Picasso lived, painted, and absorbed the wealth of its humanity.

FIGURE 3. The Painter, Casagemas, and Picasso, Barcelona, 1900, ink and watercolor on paper, 18 cm 8 cm, courtesy of Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain.

Quatre Gats. Comprised primarily of 150 serial portraits on paper, Picasso illuminated the world of turn-of-the-century Barcelona. He trained his eye on all classes, from businessmen and friends to performers and prostitutes, and portrayed them

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His first trip to Paris was short but decisive. Picasso inhaled the art around him: Degas, van Gogh, Gauguin, C é z a n n e , a n d To u l o u s e Lautrec. He made the rounds of the galleries and immediately caught the eye of two dealers, Pere Manach, a Catalan industrialist who supported Picasso with 150 francs per month for the next 2 years, and the well known Mademoiselle Berthe Weill, who purchased three pastels of bullfights and eventually arranged the sale of Le Moulin de la Galette. The carriages on the grand Boulevards, the Parisian ladies, the courtesans, and the lovers kissing openly on the street shocked the young Spaniard. With exuberance, he portrayed these scenes in new drawings and vibrant paintings. Many of his “bande Catalane” from Barcelona joined him to see FIGURE 4. Leaving the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900, 21.6 cm 25.4 cm, private collection. the Exposition Universelle; a small drawing by Picasso shows the gang together at the fair (Fig. 4). Led by Picasso, Forgive us for not writing for so long…bear in mind the four Catalans are sandwiched between the two femmethat we’ve been on the brink of running out of fatales, Odette and Germaine. Casagemas is again depicted money… Germaine, who is for the time being the hunched over, forlorn, and depressed at the back of the woman of my thoughts was determined to give me group. thirty francs she had saved…we’re going to fill our Picasso’s most important painting of this period was Le lives with peace, tranquility, work, and other things Moulin de la Galette (Fig. 5). In this large-scale work, Picasso that fill the soul with well being and the body with assimilated, and then went beyond, Toulouse-Lautrec and strength. This decision has been reached after having Renoir. Electric arc lamps illuminated lustful young French a formal meeting with the ladies. We’ve decided that women in an eerie and sinister nocturnal glow. “Modernista we’ve been getting up too late and eating at improper shadows rather than Impressionist light” fill a canvas that is hours and everything was going wrong. On top of charged with invitation, and eroticism (17, p 167). Behind the this, one of them, Odette, was beginning to get rauseductive and enticing figure in the foreground sit two beauticous because of alcohol-she had the good habit of getful French coquettes who kiss and fondle each other. The air is ting drunk every night. So we arrived at the concluthick with decadence and passion as lesbians, seductresses, sion that neither they nor we will go to bed later than and bourgeois top-hatted suitors fill the nocturnal vision. The midnight and everyday we’ll finish lunch by one. placidity of Renoir was now replaced with a charged and eager After lunch we’ll dedicate ourselves to our painting dark Spanish inflection and sexuality (19). and they’ll do the women’s work, that is, sew, clean All the while, Carles Casagemas tagged along with Picasso up, kiss us, and let themselves be fondled. Well, this is and he immediately fell in love with Germaine Gargallo. a kind of Eden or dirty Arcadia…(12, p 31) Picasso was obviously interested as well, and he may have portrayed her as the sultry whore in the foreground of Le Moulin Casagemas’ days in “Arcadia” were numbered. He was de la Galette. Germaine, her sister, and a third friend, Odette, impotent and, despite his obsession, could not fill Germaine’s were models and lovers of the Catalan painters. Odette became desires. Fueled by drink and narcotics, he slowly sunk into a Picasso’s mistress. A letter written by Casagemas on November suicidal depression. Although he continued to work, his draw11, 1900 gives us a sense of the mood: ings also became bleak. A self portrait of Casagemas from this

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Second Trip to Paris: 1901
In early 1901, after his return to Spain, Picasso moved into a studio in Madrid with Els Quatre Gats friend and Catalan writer Francisco Soler, and the pair coedited a new periodical, Art Joven. Picasso was the art editor and illustrator for the five issues that were produced. Picasso’s art during this period revolved around the periodical and portrayals of the other writers involved in the publication. Picasso heard about the suicide of Casagemas and contributed an earlier drawing of his lost friend, published in Catalunya Artistica on February 28, 1901. Picasso did not attend the memorial service for Casagemas in Barcelona and he would soon abandon 115.5 cm, courtesy of Guggenheim Madrid; Paris was calling. The death of Carles Casagemas slowly and insidiously germinated in the mind of Picasso like a festering and indolent infection, not only creating a need for a desperate personal exorcism but, in a larger sense, eventually totally altering his vocabulary and vision. His grief and guilt were completely sublimated for the first few months while he prepared for a show of his work to be orchestrated by Manach at Ambroise Vollard’s Gallery in Paris; festivity and light and color continued to fill his work. In the work of this period, we see the beginnings of the magnetic tension and critical balance between life and death, creation and destruction, and virility and old age that would follow Picasso throughout his life. The horror of Casagemas’ self-inflicted temporal gunshot wound was initially completely repressed by Picasso and not at all evidenced in his work. But, when it surfaced, it did so with an overwhelming morbid power that would drain the color from his art and would train his eye on human suffering, misery, and pathos. Picasso arrived back in Paris in May 1901 and immediately moved in with his dealer, Manach, occupying the very studio of the dead Casagemas on the Boulevard de Clichy in Montmarte, within walking distance from the site of the shooting, and he and Germaine became lovers. Their affair lasted the rest of the year and she eventually married another Catalan expatriate, Ramon Pichot, in 1906. In one swift stroke, Picasso appropriated both Casagemas’ space and his unfulfilled sexual desires. Picasso’s exorcism of the black spell of the suicide of Casagemas had begun.

FIGURE 5. Le Moulin de la Galette, Paris, 1900, oil on canvas, 88.2 cm Museum, Thannhauser Collection, New York, New York.

period appears to be that of a drugged, numb individual; his portrait of Germaine shows a young woman in profile, emotionally detached from the viewer and devoid of passion. In December 1900, Picasso and Casagemas left Paris abruptly and journeyed to Picasso’s birthplace, Malaga. Richardson recreates the scene: “After almost two months of intense and incessant work, Picasso and Casagemas returned to Barcelona. The main reason for going home, Picasso said, was the deterioration in Casagemas’ state of mind. The sexually voracious Germaine made no secret of her frustration with this weird man who insisted on regarding her as his “fiancée” but never consummated the relationship…they took off for Malaga (and) this trip to (Picasso’s) birthplace was intended to divert Casagemas and cure him of chagrin d’amour…” (17, p 174). Casagemas wrote to Germaine twice daily. The brothels and bars of Malaga deepened the pathos and inadequacy in Casagemas’ psyche. Picasso would never return to Malaga in his lifetime, nor would he ever see Casagemas alive again after the latter left by steamer to Barcelona, en route to his return to Paris and a desperate reunion with Germaine. Picasso abandoned his despondent and dependent, psychologically disabled friend, a move that would generate enormous guilt for Picasso in the years to come, and moved on alone to Madrid on January 28, 1901. Less than 3 weeks later, in front of Pallarès, Germaine, Odette, and the rest of the expatriate Catalans, Carles Casagemas would ended his life violently on the Boulevard de Clichy in Paris and was buried in the Cimetière Montmarte.

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His first major exhibition at Vollard’s gallery, which opened complimentary colors to heighten the sense of Picasso’s horror on June 24, 1901, was a great triumph for the young Picasso. at his friend’s violent death intensifies the contrast between Max Jacob, poet, writer, mystic, and eventual friend to Picasso, the heat-ray-like strokes of paint emanating from the candle Modigliani, and others recalled: “As soon as he arrived in Paris, and the greenish face of the dead man...” (13, p 240). The third he had an exhibition at Vollard’s, which was a veritable success. is vertical, perhaps suggesting a form of magical resurrection. He was accused of imitating Steinlen, Lautrec, Vuillard, van The palette is pale, blue, and devoid of color. Close inspection Gogh, etc., but everyone recognized that he had a fire, a real of these three paintings reveals the rapidity of their creation brilliance, a painter’s eye….I went to see them, Manach and and the frenzy of emotion in the brush of their creator. Rapid Picasso; I spent a day looking at piles and piles of paintings! He and explosive strokes are applied to panel and cardboard, perwas making one or two each day or night, and selling them for haps the only surfaces available to Picasso at the instant 150 francs on the rue Laffitte” (12, p 38). moment of this catharsis and attempt to purge guilt and The 30 new canvases depicted the vibrant figures of the absolve memory. Parisian high life, as well as the beggars and disabled wretches Far out on the speculative end of the interpretation of the at the fringes of society. Roland Penrose, Picasso’s friend and iconography of The Death of Casagemas is the contention of both biographer, refers to this group of works as Picasso’s “Cabaret Norman Mailer and John Richardson that the candle’s giant Period” (15). Confident in his abilities, Picasso worked furiflame in the painting is shaped to suggest the female genitalia ously and, in a matter of weeks, created the bulk of the work (11, 17). Picasso’s intent will never be known, but if these for the exhibition, which was a critical and financial success. scholars are correct about this “incandescent vagina,” their Despite the glory of the legendary Vollard exhibition, the concept substantiates the tense equilibrium and ambivalence repressed demons in Picasso’s psyche slowly began to emerge. between love and death, sexuality and agony, and, as Mailer By the summer of 1901, the color blue slowly began to infilstates, “the polar nodes of lust and grief” (11, p 60; 17, p 211). trate, and then dominate, his palette. Vibrant and colorful stillThe brilliant flame adjacent to the corpse of Casagemas lying lifes emerged set against a background of deep blue, a gracein state is perhaps Picasso’s graphic form of balance and ful nude was depicted bathing in a blue tub in a blue room, redemption and his belated and veiled apology for having innocent children were painted in blue, and high society become Germaine’s lover. madames with all of the frills of their outfits were cast in pale Ultimately, the large scale oil, The Burial of Casagemas blue. A recurring theme, the forlorn and lost absinthe drinker, (Evocation) was the supreme culmination of this initial comwears a shapeless blue shirt. The impressionistic view of the memorative exorcism (Fig. 8). Repeated preparatory drawings Parisian roofs from his window, Blue Roofs, Paris, became sufand a painting entitled “The Mourners” were created. Over and fused with rich enveloping blue shadows (Fig. 6). Finally, in the autumn of 1901, in rapid succession, like a volcano’s stuttering eruption with pressurized gases and lava, three posthumous images of the dead Casagemas were created by the 19year-old Picasso (Figs. 1 and 7, A and B). All depict Picasso’s imagined, and private, wake for his Catalan friend. In all three, the head in profile is viewed from the right; two of them demonstrate the frontotemporal entry wound. The two horizontal images are quite different; one is set in ghastly green and blue and the other in bold strokes of color, with an enormous candle lighting the corpse. “Picasso turned to van Gogh, who had also shot himself, for the FIGURE 6. Blue Roofs, Paris, Paris, 1901, oil on cardboard, 40 cm 57.5 cm, courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England. palette of the smallest of the three paintings. The use of

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FIGURE 7. Left, Casagemas in his Coffin, Paris, 1901, oil on cardboard, 72.5 cm 57.8 cm, private collection.

Right, Head of the Dead Casagemas, Paris, 1901, oil on cardboard, 59 cm 35 cm, private collection.

over, Picasso depicted death and burial, finality and sorrow; the horror of the suicide had surfaced with a vengeance for the young Picasso. This allegorical canvas, painted primarily in blue, shows nine mourners, all dressed in blue robes, in grief at the shrouded body of Casagemas. The mausoleum awaits the corpus. Above the death scene, Casagemas ascends to heaven on horseback, embracing his obsession, Germaine, while surrounded by three erotic whores and a vision of maternity, a mother with three children, as well as two other nudes. The nine figures in the “heavenly” realm give balance to the nine earthly figures below (6). Here, Picasso juxtaposed the sacred against the profane. “Obviously about love, the ultimate cause of Casagemas’ death, the allegory centers on the contrast between two traditional types of love…as embodied (by the whores and) the mother and the children. Ironically the latter looks downward, towards the corpse on the ground, while the former look upward, at the soul ascending to heaven” (16, p 85–87). The canvas is the first evidence of Picasso’s cannibalization of the old masters; in this case, El Greco’s The Burial of Count

Orgaz. The influence of El Greco is undeniable. In the exorcism of the young Picasso, the ascension of the dead is sexual, not spiritual. Elizabeth Cowling, a noted Picasso scholar, discusses the dichotomy: (In this) imitation of The Burial of Count Orgaz the composition is split into contrasting lower and upper halves. In the earthly realm the dead man in his shroud…is attended by a line of mourners…in the heavenly sphere which is peopled not by Christ, the Virgin and the Saints, but by naked whores flaunting themselves before the soul of Casagemas who, mounted on a white horse, robed in black like a Dominican and with arms stretched out in the pose of the crucified Christ, is being ardently embraced (1, pp 85–86). The divided structure of heaven and earth in the work is not the only element borrowed from El Greco. The blue palette is on loan as well; many of the iconic El Greco masterpieces, with which Picasso was quite familiar, were painted in grays and shades of ethereal blue.

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acters: in the Minotaur and the musketeer, in the harlequins of his last large scale canvases, and in the fantasies of his later erotic resurrections. The Burial of Casagemas represents Picasso’s departure from his portrayals of elegant Parisian high society and, to an extent, a return to Spain, Spanish painting, Spanish renaissance masterpieces, Spanish fears and religion, and, ultimately, to death (2). In her book on Picasso, Gertrude Stein discusses the significance of Picasso’s origins: Very soon the Spanish temperament was again real inside of him. He went back to Spain in 1902 and the painting known as the blue period was the result…the sadness of Spain and the monotony of the Spanish coloring, after the time spent in Paris, struck him forcibly upon his return there. Because one must never forget that Spain is not like other southern countries, it is not colorful…Spain in this sense is not at all southern, it is oriental, women there wear black more often than colors, the earth is dry and gold in color, the sky is blue almost black, the star-light nights are black too or a very dark blue…(18, p 11).

The Blue Period and Redemption
By the end of 1901, Picasso settled into a poor bohemian existence in Montmarte and, during the course of the following 2 years, his palette would be almost entirely bathed in blue. He would become obsessed with the miseries of poverty, deprivation and disability, old age and ill health, and psychological depression. Exuberance and color were gone, replaced by a morbid melancholy. The subjects of his paintings became the living dead, sad and pained disabled sufferers without hope of salvation, and mothers and fathers detached from their children. Cachectic, blind, begging, desolate, and lost, these figures became a mirror of Picasso’s psyche and fears as he struggled for meaning, and perhaps redemption, in his early 20s. In the latter part of 1901, Picasso made many visits to the infamous women’s Saint Lazare Prison in Montmarte, and used the jailed prostitutes, their children, and the venereally infected syphilitic inmates in their shawls and prison bonnets as models. Nuns served as guards in this female penitentiary, which was established in the 17th century and subsequently became a women’s prison in 1824. Picasso returned repeatedly with his sketchbook to assimilate the pathos. Why was Picasso infatuated with these miserables? Was it his fear of disease and deterioration? Was it simply the utter sadness of their existence and fate, or was it something more, that same balance and dynamic tension between life and death that is seen in The Burial of Casagemas? There, in the Saint Lazare Prison, sexuality was criminalized. Lust became desolation and femininity became syphilis; the vibrancy of life became depression and, ultimately, death. The first cycle of major Blue Period works emanated from these visitations. Saint Lazare Woman by Moonlight, 1901, (Fig. 9) is a typical work of this period depicting great loneliness and

FIGURE 8. The Burial of Casagemas (Evocation), Paris, 1901, oil on canvas, 150 cm 90 cm, courtesy of Musée d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France.

The ambivalence and tension about mortality is depicted in the balanced halves of The Burial of Casagemas. Death is countered with life, entombment with sexuality, and solitude with intimacy. Perhaps as a mechanism to assuage his own guilt and fears of mortality, Picasso first depicts death and then rejects it. Roland Penrose similarly notes: “He had lived through his friend’s tragedy so closely that it had become his own….Since he had been led to descend into Hades it was essential for him to discover his own salvation. The rider on the white horse mounting into the clouds and the huddled mourners below were both subconsciously symbols of himself” (15, pp 76–77). This struggle with mortality would, for the next 72 years, be visible in all of Picasso’s creations and char-

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FIGURE 10. Self Portrait, Paris, 1901, oil on canvas, 81 cm courtesy of Musée Picasso, Paris, France. FIGURE 9. Saint Lazare Woman by Moonlight, Paris, 1901, oil on canvas, 100 cm 69.2 cm, courtesy of The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan.

60 cm,

suffering, enveloped in the gloom of a nocturnal blue. Picasso later called the Saint Lazare inmates in their prison garb his “suffering machines.” His haunting Self Portrait of 1901 shows the young Picasso bearded, vacant, ashen, and cold, with his dark blue overcoat drawn up to his neck, superimposed on a monotonous field of empty desolate blue (Fig. 10). In his 1932 essay, Carl Jung suggested that Picasso chose blue, the classic color of spiritualism, compassion, and sadness, to echo “the Tuat-blue of the Egyptian underworld, the blue of night, (and the blue) of moonlight and water” (9). The association between femininity and suffering remained quite potent for Picasso; it resurfaced some 35 years later in his portrayal of his mistress, Dora Maar, in the series of “the weeping women.” Beauty had become broken, his mistress had become misery, and was a symbol of war. Picasso’s lover had assumed the role as a mirror of universal suffering and angst. In a parallel fashion to The Burial of Casagemas, mourning and grief were projected on images of innocence, youth, and beauty in these World War II-era portraits.

In January of 1902, Picasso returned to Barcelona; however, the seismic events of the previous year, the inmates of Saint Lazare Prison, and his visions of Casagemas, Germaine, and melancholy would follow. The images of desolation in the prison had now been burned in his memory and subconscious. Picasso returned to Els Quatre Gats and the seedy underworld of Barcelona. He painted monochromatic portraits of his Catalan friends and dismal images of wretched and dejected women, portraying broken inmates in typical prison headdress. Two Sisters, 1902, is a treasure of this period which portrays a Saint Lazare prisoner with a nun, or, alternatively, a vision of maternity with a mother and child. This work further exemplifies the tense harmony between pathos, sorrow, alienation with life, reproduction, and health. For the next 2 years, moving between Barcelona and Paris, Picasso would go on to create the classics of the Blue Period. These somber and melancholy pictures of poverty are paradoxically some of the most expensive of all art works on record and now fill the great museums and collections on all continents. The blue paintings were not, in that era, commercially successful, and Picasso depended on his family in Barcelona for financial support. His depravity was psychological as well;

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the ghosts of Casagemas and Germaine and the events of the previous year had yet to be fully exorcised. A remarkable painting was created in Barcelona in 1902. The angst of the suicide erupts again in Portrait de Germaine, a small Blue Period canvas (Fig. 11). Without doubt, Picasso was brooding. Germaine, who was in Paris at that time, resurfaced in Picasso’s psyche to such an extent that she materialized in this beautiful Barcelona oil. Young Germaine, eager and sexual, with full pouting lips, gazes into the distance. Picasso dresses her in the robes and bonnet of the whores of the Saint Lazare prison and places her under one of the prison’s distinctive archways. It is one of the most touching and tender of all the Blue Period works. The suffering here is sanitized, immortalized, and, to a degree, the woman in pain becomes timeless and classic. She is attractive and available, just the opposite of the typical elongated, forlorn El Greco-like Blue Period characters. Is the portrait an apology, a tribute, or a condemnation? Is Picasso making her into a whorish and miserable inmate condemned to solitary confinement with himself as the warden, or is he indirectly jailing his own psyche after a guilty verdict in the shooting of Casagemas? Is she looking back in angst and regret? Is he praising her, or perhaps himself? Is he burying Casagemas or resurrecting him? In the end, it remains an enigma, but the ambivalence and tension in the picture is palpable and it again underscores Picasso’s life on the thin, high wire: erotic desire and mistress versus Saint Lazare inmate; youth, passion, and innocence versus syphilis; and death versus redemption. Germaine remained with Picasso’s Catalan friend, Pichot, and settled in Montmarte. Pichot died in 1925 and Germaine became chronically ill, debilitated, and poor until her death in 1948. Almost as a form of a permanent connection to Casagemas, Picasso continued to support her financially. Françoise Gilot, Picasso’s mistress in the 1940s, recounts a journey up to Montmarte: We made our way up the hill…we went into a small house. (Picasso) knocked on the door and then walked inside without waiting for an answer. We saw a little old lady, toothless and sick, lying in bed… Pablo talked quietly with her. After a few minutes he laid some money on the night table. I asked him why he had brought me to see the woman. “I want you to learn about life,” he said quietly. “That woman’s name is Germaine Pichot. She is old and…poor and unfortunate now . . . but when she was young she was very pretty and made a painter friend of mine suffer so much that he committed suicide. She was a young laundress when I first came to Paris….(In those days,) she turned a lot of heads. Now look at her (5, p 82). Picasso briefly returned to Paris in the winter of 1902–1903 and lived with poet Max Jacob on the rue Voltaire, sharing the same bed. Picasso would sleep during the day while Max worked, and then, as would be his custom the rest of his life, he would work into the night. They were destitute. Picasso

FIGURE 11. Portrait de Germaine, Barcelona, 1902, oil on canvas, 50.2 cm 41.6 cm, private collection.

later claimed that during that winter he would burn his drawings in the furnace to keep warm. Back in Barcelona in early 1903, Picasso embarked on the richest and most productive phase of the Blue Period. The nocturnal views of the bleak and barren roofs of Barcelona in 1903 are entirely vacant, monochromatic and blue, and represent a quantum leap into melancholy compared with the Parisian roofs painted in 1901. Four classic works of 1903, The Old Jew, The Tragedy, The Old Guitarist, and The Blind Man’s Meal emphasize alienation, loneliness, poverty, hunger, searching and yearning, blindness, and, ultimately, death. The infamous La Celestina, from 15-century Spanish literature, is also portrayed in blue by Picasso, ragged and partially blind. Blindness, which may relate to Picasso’s belief in the presence of man’s profound inner vision and self awareness, and paralysis were recurring themes in the Blue Period works, presumptively reflecting Picasso’s persistent fear of syphilis; whether or not the artist had ever contracted venereal disease remains unknown. Picasso needed a balance for these monochromatic melancholy lamentations in blue; thus, sex and eroticism, in all forms of graphic permutations, filled his smaller drawings and sketches. What a contrast these explicitly erotic and pornographic drawings make to the Blue Period canvases.

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impotent Casagemas, are balanced with maternity, a mother protectively holding her child. The allegorical La Vie gives us back Casagemas, holding a fertile and perhaps pregnant Germaine. Behind them, in the artist’s studio, are two canvases of wretched and defeated nude women; to their left is a strong statuesque woman with her child. Radiographic analysis of the canvas is astounding. Originally, and in the four preparatory drawings, the male figure of Casagemas in the foreground is clearly Picasso himself. A flying “birdman” was originally on the lower canvas in the background and may have represented a hovering symbol of death. A bearded man may have predated the maternity scene on the right. Of greater significance is the fact that the entirety of La Vie was painted over Last Moments, Picasso’s work exhibited in Paris in 1900 at the Exposition Universelle, in a profound memorial to Casagemas. Picasso selected what was perhaps his most famous painting to date, which had been exhibited at a World’s Fair, a painting which he traveled to see with Casagemas, to be the foundation and surface of his final tribute to his dead Catalan friend. The meaning of the pose of the central characters remains an enigma. Perhaps Casagemas is lifting his index finger to heaven to indicate his inevitable end (14). John Richardson’s contention is that the posture of the central male, with the raised index finger of the left hand, is based on the Tarot card for the magician (8). Picasso had been introduced to mysticism and the occult by poet Max Jacob in Paris in the previous months. Magically, Picasso changes himself into Casagemas, revives and resurrects him, makes Casagemas potent and sexual, and gives him a child. The canvas suggests the mysterious and supernatural. It is Picasso’s ultimate absolution for the suicide, his gift to Casagemas, his catharsis, and his apology. Elizabeth Cowling writes:
FIGURE 12. La Vie, Barcelona, 1903, oil on canvas, 197 cm courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio. 127.3 cm,

These gracefully drawn and fully exposed young lustful figures, with himself included, were certainly indulging in each other. More importantly, they served to counter the dark side and functioned as a form of redemption for the young artist, a reminder of his virility and carnal desire and need for procreation in the midst of the psychic blue abyss. Picasso would once again return to this protective “shield” of sexuality in his final decaying years. In the spring of 1903, Picasso began the powerful and enigmatic, La Vie (Fig. 12). No Blue Period painting has received more analysis, speculation, and dissection. Its true intent and themes will forever remain unknown; however, the work is suggestive of concepts of sorrow and impotence, fertility and creation, magic, and death and redemption. Casagemas is at once condemned for his human frailties and simultaneously resurrected for eternity. Picasso becomes Casagemas, as Casagemas becomes the painter, standing in his studio. Images of magic, Germaine pregnant with the child of the

Picasso never had a fully worked out allegorical program (for La Vie)…possibly he decided to give the young man a suicides features not just in order to disguise the original autobiographical motivation, but because it was crucial to his conception of Life that Death should haunt even the youthful characters. The general mood of La Vie is also unambiguous, its religious overtones inescapable: this is a world of “sadness and pain” and Picasso reminds the spectator of the familiar images of Adam and Eve after the Fall in his bleak depiction of the couple and in the inset of the huddled, weeping figures (1, p 103). Picasso has attempted to make peace with his demons. In the end, La Vie, or “Life,” is about death and magical resurrection. In retrospect, why did a healthy and vibrant Spanish artist sink into this realm of sorrowful, demoralized, and pathetic blue melancholia from 1901 to 1904? There is not a single, specific answer; these works are certainly not simply those of a bohemian and destitute painter who was depressed. In the final analysis, the overwhelming pathos and depression in Picasso’s art was surely multifactorial. Triggered and sustained by the relentless horror of the suicide of Carles

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Casagemas, fueled by his dread of death and disability, and substantiated on a daily basis by his own poverty and lack of commercial success, the Blue Period works suggest yet another element, one that is more complex and ephemeral. Through the lens of the young Spaniard, the most powerful and basic emotions and tensions of life were registered and laid bare: passion and pain, suffering and redemption, life and death. The young artist had touched the very core issues of human existence. The burning fire of this realization, and the struggle to overcome it, were the culminating elements that propelled Picasso through the psychic and pictorial blue netherworld in his early years in Paris and Barcelona. Picasso had unknowingly become a warrior in a cataclysmic battle, a confrontation as old as mankind itself. As Picasso survived through the decades, the parade of mortality, war, massacre, and bereavement was continual; lovers, friends, countrymen, fellow artists, and family all came to their final end before him. Only Pallarès, the sole surviving link to Catalonia, the “bande Catalane,” and the suicide of Casagemas, outlived him. In the end, Picasso was alone in his fortresses on the Riviera as a solitary soldier fighting his progressive impotence with a perfusion of erotic work; in essence, he was bargaining with death and mortality for pardon and redemption. In the end, Picasso insidiously became one of his own desolate and barren Blue Period figures and depicted himself as such in his last anguished self portrait in 1972 (Fig. 13). His head and face, balanced precariously on his barren shoulders, create a death mask. The view is reminiscent of his desolate Self Portrait of 1901. The nightmare of the suicide of Casagemas had subliminally followed the aging artist through the decades and into his 90s. His ultimate confrontation with mortality had occurred, and Picasso’s final form of redemption was bitter acceptance and resignation. The horrible suicidal visage is drawn exclusively in blue. The critical equilibrium between suffering and beauty, darkness and light, and death and redemption is a powerful spiritual and religious theme that has coursed throughout the history of painting, sculpture, and graphic art since the origins of the Renaissance. Picasso’s Catalan compatriot, Jaime Sabartés, reflected back in 1945: Art emanates from sadness and pain…grief is the basis of life…life with all of its torments is at the core of (Picasso’s) art. If we demand sincerity from the artist, we must remember that sincerity is not to be found outside the realm of grief. (30, p 217) For eight decades, Picasso continually attempted to offset the “grief” and destructive power of human angst, inevitable mortality, and pain with life, sexuality, creation, love, dominance, and triumph. These tensions, borne out of the Blue Period and, to an extent, from his reaction to the suicide of Casagemas, gave genesis to a century of creation. The Death of Casagemas was part of the settlement and bequest to the French government by the estate of Picasso after his death in 1973. The painting currently hangs alongside the Blue Period Self Portrait of 1901 in the Musée Picasso in Paris.

FIGURE 13. Self Portrait, 1972, wax crayon on paper, 65.7 cm 50.5 cm, courtesy of Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.

REFERENCES
1. Cowling E: Picasso: Style and Meaning. London, Phaidon Press Limited, 2002, pp 85–86, 103. 2. Daix P: Picasso: Life and Art. London, Thames and Hudson, 1993, pp 14, 19–20, 31. 3. Fontbona F: Picasso and Els 4 Gats, in Picasso and Els 4 Gats: The Early Years in Turn of the Century Barcelona. Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1996, pp 11–18. 4. Franck D: Bohemian Paris. New York, Grove Press, 1998, p 17. 5. Gilot F: Life with Picasso. New York, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1964, p 82. 6. Harris JC: Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas. Arch Gen Psychiatry 60:868, 2003. 7. Huffington A: Picasso-Creator and Destroyer. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1988, p 55. 8. Januszczak W (Dir): Picasso: Magic, Sex, and Death. Richmond Hill, BFS Entertainment and Multimedia, 2001. 9. Jung C: Essay on Picasso, in Hull RF (trans): The Spirit of Man, Art, and Literature: Vol. 15. New York, Bollinger Foundation, 1966, pp 135–141. 10. Leal B: The Ultimate Picasso. New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000, pp 47, 56. 11. Mailer N: Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man. New York, The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995, pp 59–60. 12. McCully M: A Picasso Anthology. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1981, pp 31, 38. 13. McCully M: Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation. New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1996, pp 225–253.

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14. Mendoza C: Casas and Picasso, in Picasso and Els 4 Gats: The Early Years in Turn of the Century Barcelona. Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1995, pp 21–31. 15. Penrose R: Picasso: His Life and Work. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1981, ed 3, pp 69, 76–77. 16. Reff T: Picasso in Retrospect. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1973, pp 11–28. 17. Richardson J: A Life of Picasso. New York, Random House, 1991, vol 1, pp 110, 118, 167, 174, 180–181, 211, 217. 18. Stein G: Gertrude Stein on Picasso. New York, Liveright, 1970, p 11. 19. Tucker P: Thannhauser: The Thannhauser Collection of the Guggenheim Museum. New York, Harry N. Abrams, 2001, pp 61–63.

COMMENTS

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e should all be grateful to Dr. Chalif for yet another erudite paper further investigating the work of Picasso and its evolution through his career. It is indeed marvelous to see that the energy and insights that are so common to neurosurgery can also be applied to the area of art criticism in such a professional and stimulating fashion. Edward R. Laws, Jr. Charlottesville, Virginia

plenty of other things to feel guilty about. He was a highly flawed human being who happened to be a great artist. No doubt Picasso’s art is very explicit in its treatment of the link between sexuality and creativity. His prodigious output of thousands of works in nearly every medium is desperate testimony to the artist’s belief that the life force can be used to overcome death. Nevertheless, it is all too easy to claim this as a unique aspect of Picasso’s career or to read too much into the importance of his biography in the evidence of his work. In Picasso, the drive for sexual and artistic conquest was extreme but his obsessions, fears, and loves were otherwise typical for most highly creative persons. Recent statistical studies in the psychology of artists and poets confirm the public’s impression that they are more subject to depression and more sexually active than the population as a whole (2, 3). Interestingly, artists tend to live longer lives and poets shorter ones than the rest of us (1). From my own experience, most exceptional artists and writers are obsessive-compulsive people who are acutely aware of how their artwork functions in their personal engagement with death. For this reason, artists tend to be rather thin-skinned and extremely sensitive to the public’s reception of their art. A civilization is best known by its artifacts, and the inheritance we receive from a great artist or scientist is the only immortality they are granted. They all know this. Michael Salcman Baltimore, Maryland

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o an unusual degree, the chronology of Picasso’s paintings can be determined from their subject matter, drawn from the signal events of his life: the coming and going of friends, concurrent political issues, or the arrival of a new mistress or the departure of an old one. Among major Western artists, Picasso’s art is the most autobiographical, almost to a fault. His interest in himself as a social being and as a creative force is the unifying thread for the bewildering array of his many stylistic advances and retreats. Nevertheless, the advances and retreats ultimately come out of Picasso’s deep understanding of art history and his need to compete with the best of his contemporaries and the old masters. To pose the death of Casagemas as the critical factor in the development of Picasso’s Blue Period is understandable but simplistic. Dr. Chalif discusses the many other influences on Picasso at this time, including his interest in the art of El Greco and Lautrec, his own life in the demi-monde of Paris, and the circumstances of his own poverty. In every important period of his artistic life, Picasso had a different close artistic friend, a different major poet or composer as intellectual collaborator, and a different woman as his close companion. In serial fashion, Picasso disposed of his “best” friend, “close” comrade, or “beloved” mistress as soon as he felt the need for new creative experiences or was encouraged to do so by political expediency. Picasso was sexually voracious and often took the wives or mistresses of close friends as lovers. It is likely that Germaine shared Picasso’s bed from the first and that his sense of guilt over the death of Casagemas was heightened by this fact. Picasso’s misogyny is well known, but his treatment of the men closest to him was often no better. Picasso broke with the noble Braque, his partner in the discovery of Cubism; competed openly for collectors with Matisse, his major artistic rival; and did nothing to prevent the Holocaust death of Max Jacob, one of his oldest friends, a Catholic convert, and Cubist poet. Picasso died more than 70 years after he left Casagemas in Paris and moved in on his girlfriend. By then, he had

1. Cassandro VJ: Explaining premature mortality across fields of creative endeavor. J Pers 66:805–833, 1998. 2. Nettle D: Schizotypy and mental health amongst poets, visual artists, and mathematicians. J Res Pers (in press). 3. Nettle D, Clegg H: Schizotypy, creativity and mating success in humans. Proc B Biol Sci 273:611–615, 2006.

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avid Chalif provides a third, glorious installment published in the Journal analyzing the life and art of Pablo Picasso (1, 2). Focusing on Picasso’s relationship with Carles Casagemas, an unfortunate friend who took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the author offers a compelling analysis of life, death, and the very human struggle to grapple with these concepts. In our opinion, the most appealing aspect of this work, and the work of Picasso himself, is that they vividly remind us, as practicing neurosurgeons, of the impact one person’s life can have on another and the world around him. David Chalif is to be congratulated for sharing his significant expertise with the worldwide neurosurgical community. Charles Matouk James T. Rutka Toronto, Canada

1. Chalif DJ: The pipes of pan. Neurosurgery 55:1437–1440, 2004. 2. Chalif DJ: The Portrait of Gertrude Stein at 100. Neurosurgery 59:410–421, 2006.