If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso
Gertrude Stein, “If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso” (1923). The artist gets artisted upon. Upon the artist. Visited by she who by her by she who so by words visits upon. She who by words. Artisted upon visit upon by words she who by words unpaints his paint.
|If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso
by Gertrude Stein
If I told him would he like it. Would he like it if I told him.
I just want a Picasso, in my casa
Gertrude Stein wrote “If I Told Him : A Completed Portrait of Picasso” in 1923. What’s more, according to Wikipedia,
It was first published in Vanity Fair in 1924 and she subsequently published it in her 1934 collection Portraits and Prayers. This poem was part of a multi-decade intertextual dialogue between Stein and Pablo Picasso. Stein was one of the first to exhibit Picasso’s paintings at her weekly salons at 27 rue de Fleurus. In 1906, Picasso completed a portrait of Stein, and the following year, she wrote her first literary portrait of Picasso, titled “Picasso.” Over a decade later, when the two were no longer working as closely together, she wrote this second portrait, notable for its non-representational style.
“Picasso Baby” is from Jay-Z’s album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. To be sure, “modern day Pablo” or not, it has a great cover design:
The sculpture shown on the cover is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which texted Jay-Z’s source: Alpheus and Arethusa by Battista di Domenico Lorenzi (Italian, ca. 1527/28–1594):
The Met’s page for Alpheus and Arethusa tells the story of the sculpture and the myth behind it:
In Roman mythology the river god Alpheus pursued the nymph Arethusa until Diana changed her into a fountain. This group was carved to go above a fountain in the villa Il Paradiso at Pian di Ripoli, near Florence, which belonged to Alamanno Bandini, Knight of Malta.
Who knows? Maybe this is Jay-Z and his muse, Beyoncé, many many lifetimes ago. Here is the full, nearly life-size sculpture:
Everybody’s talking about Picasso (still!), so I thought I’d give him a chance to dig beneath the surface of Stein. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a nice page that does exactly that: A Face is a Face is a Face: Beneath Picasso’s Gertrude Stein.
As Gertrude Stein might have said, because said so she did so above you can behold so:
Exact resemblance to exact resemblance the exact resemblance as exact as a resemblance, exactly as resembling, exactly resembling, exactly in resemblance exactly a resemblance, exactly and resemblance.
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