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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 09:27 GMT
Picasso's grandson turns biographer
Boy With A Pipe
In May, Picasso's Boy With A Pipe became the most expensive painting ever
The grandson of painter Pablo Picasso has written a biography of his grandfather in an effort to better understand the "very complicated" artist.

Olivier Widmaier told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme he wrote Picasso: The Real Family Story because he wanted to reconcile his childhood image of his grandfather with that of the "monster" presented in the press shortly after his death.

The book took him two years to write.

"I wanted to study my grandfather's relationship with women, with his family, with money, with fame, with death," Widmaier said.

"I wanted to find answers to questions I had never wondered."

'The world changed'

Picasso died of a heart seizure at the age of 91 in his house in the South of France.

Widmaier is the son of Maya Picasso, herself the daughter of Pablo and Marie-Therese Walter, one of the painter's many lovers.

Pablo Picasso
If you look at the life of the artist and the life of the man, they are really close to each other
Olivier Widmaier
She became involved with him towards the end of his marriage to his first wife Olga Koklova. She later married him herself, but divorced him in 1944.

Widmaier recalled how he learned of his grandfather's death on television, when the news interrupted a programme he was watching.

"Suddenly the world changed for me," he said.

"Afterwards, when the newspapers revealed that my mother was among the heirs of Pablo Picasso, I became someone different. At school and forever, I was and I will remain the grandson of Pablo Picasso."

Widmaier said that at the time, he believed Picasso was married to his grandmother. Only after Picasso died did Widmaier learn about the large number of women who had had relationships with his "very complicated" grandfather.

However, Widmaier argued strongly that although Picasso was a notorious womaniser, his family was an important part of Picasso's art.

He contended that without his children and his mistresses, Picasso would not have been inspired to produce the works that he did.

"He always told the journalists that he needed a subject - he was not an abstract person," Widmaier added.

"So it means that all those women - Fernande, Olga, Marie-Therese, Francoise, Jaqueline, and many others, were the subject of his interest. Picasso could not be alone."

Grandfather's legacy

In writing his book, Widmaier said that he talked to people who knew his grandfather, and also examined many letters to his daughter Maya - as well as other more intimate ones sent to his lovers.

"It is true that Picasso loved his children and loved every woman," Widmaier said.

Picasso's Parade
Picasso's Parade is currently on display in Hong Kong
"And if you ask every woman, 'would you go again with Picasso?', they all would say yes, for sure."

He also pointed to the role Picasso's private life had played in driving his prolific output, including 8,000 paintings and 30,000 drawings. His portrait of Marie-Therese is regarded by some as one of his most erotic works.

"If you look at the life of the artist and the life of the man, they are really close to each other," Widmaier said.

"Every period is based on a new love story, a new period in his private life."

He added that he had himself attempted drawing after being told he was "very good" at it - but in his exam had received marks of only three out of twenty.

"In fact my life is around 15% influenced by the fact I'm the grandson of Pablo Picasso," he said.

"Probably because of the benefits I get from his name - from his fortune, that we've all got - I give myself obligations more than rights, and I'm not so free.

"But I'm OK. I'm very happy to live with this."


SEE ALSO:
Restless genius: Pablo Picasso
06 May 04 |  Entertainment
Picasso painting sells for $104m
06 May 04 |  Entertainment
Picasso's Malaga museum realised
27 Oct 03 |  Entertainment


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