Keats said ""That which is creative must create itself"". And although most likely the dictum never reached the ears of Pablo Picasso he more than any other modern artist, has proved just that: intuitive and inventive, anti- Impressionistic and, in a way, anti-intellectual, Picasso did not seek to imitate form but rather to make it; thus with Cubism he entered a totally new world of reality, an adventure whose end result is with us today via abstract expressionism. Now thanks to Antonina Vallentin, something of the Spanish-born painter's spirited, self-discovery and sustained sparkle emerge in a shrewdly managed, thoroughly aware account, Madame Vallentin having known Picasso over a number of years and been au courant with the cultural criss-crossings of the day. However, the book is far more middlebrow than highbrow and should be approached not as the definitive assessment, but as an engaging, warmly elegant introduction to his life and work. Graced with photographs, the chapters, cover the Barcelona days, bohemian life along the Seine, his many women and many marriages of sorts, the Blue and Rose periods, his friendships with Cocteau and Braque, Apollinaire and Stein, the revolutionary method of disintegration and reconstruction by way of Demoiselles d'Avignon, the Spanish Civil War and the surrealist thunder of Guernica, finally the postwar legends and controversies. A sizeable, satisfying introduction to a profound, if puzzling, innovator.