978-0-375-40033-9 / 9780375400339

The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper





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About the book:

Two quotations from Francis Bacon bookend this curious, exasperatedly affectionate memoir by John Richardson, distinguished art historian and 1991 Whitbread Award-winning biographer of Picasso: the prophetic "she'll try to lure you to bed, and then she'll turn on you. She always does," finds its uncanny conclusion in "Didn't I warn you she was a thoroughly treacherous woman?" The sorcerer (art collector Douglas Cooper) and his apprentice (Richardson) lived for 10 years in the grandiose "folly" Château de Castille in Provence, where they entertained a circle that included Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Angus Wilson, Tennessee Williams, and a range of other usual suspects from that period's artistic fraternity. When Richardson left Cooper for the lights of New York, Cooper, in the great tradition of spurned lovers, burned Richardson's remaining possessions, stole his paintings, denounced him to friends and employers, and even attempted to arrange his arrest by Interpol. Cooper was a duplicitous, sadistic bully (among his more outrageous acts was loudly booing the queen outside Westminster Abbey at her coronation). But his deep knowledge of art history and classical cubism and his pioneering collecting of the works of Picasso, Braque, Léger, and Gris were an essential counterpoint to the staid policy of the Tate Gallery and its director, Sir John Rothenstein, for whom he held a deteriorating scorn. Richardson's delight in reviewing this formative period reignites the fire in Cooper flaring nostrils and borrows some of its flame to stoke what is arguably an enriching addendum to his Picasso magnum opus, which, appropriately, bears a dedication to his old sorcerer. --David Vincent,

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