John Richardson is still finishing his massive, multi-volume Picasso biography. Nonetheless, there are few as familiar with Picasso the man as well as the work. So when Richardson takes to Vanity Fair’s site to give his opinion on the Le Guennec trove, there’s some anticipation that all will be revealed.
And the biographer does offer some interesting and important information. He says Picasso was generous with his work but only giving from what he was working on at the time.”Picasso would never, in my opinion, have given away these works—so relevant to his early development—not even to his wife.” Though it should be pointed out that Le Gunnec says that Picasso’s wife gave the boxes to him, which sounds more like she gave him permission to take the boxes.
Here’s what Richardson has to say:
It is my belief that this treasure trove belonged to a massive group of some 70 portfolios of works on paper which the artist had been obliged to remove from his Paris apartment on the Rue la Boétie and his studio on the Rue des Grands Augustins after the French government enacted regulations preventing people from having multiple residencies. […] Douglas Cooper, the celebrated British Picasso collector, and I happened to be visiting Picasso when this vast shipment arrived. He asked us to help him go through some of the portfolios. The next two days were spent sitting on the floor of the principal studio rediscovering these treasures. He hadn’t looked at most of the material for 20 or 30 years, Picasso said, and the contents were as much a surprise to him as they were to us. The artist’s excitement was infectious and his comments fascinating.
The contents, which had never been photographed or catalogued, were exceedingly varied—and anything but systematically organized.
The Curious Case of the Le Guennec Picassos (Vanity Fair)