A terrific opening—a serene, classical landscape interrupted by Pablo Picasso’s exuberant burst through the canvas of this bucolic scene—leads into a simplified look at Picasso’s artistic development from adolescent prodigy through his 20s.
From Picasso’s “blue” period in Paris through his cheerier “rose” period, the young “Mr. Big Famous Art Star” still beloved of critics discovers the visual power of African masks, eventually producing the surprising Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Winter charts the course of an artist determined to travel by his own compass. He depicts the young adult Picasso beset by critics on every side (including an unnamed wife—“Why can’t you keep painting beautiful pictures?”—though Picasso would not actually marry any of the women in his life until much later). Hawkes’ vibrant, full-bleed illustrations offer Picasso as a superhero of sorts, red cape included, dashing as his artistic muse might inspire, and faithfully reproduce a few familiar works. A bit of magical realism intrudes as Picasso floats through Paris and later when “Picasso expands himself to a height of one hundred feet” to face down his critics. A mere taste of the iconoclastic artist emerges, but an essential point is conveyed—that Picasso understood that art is more than the eye perceives as “real.”
An energetic and affectionate introduction to an artist who was always somewhat larger than life. (biographical note) (Picture book. 5-10)