The Unknown Masterpiece, by Balzac, continues to provoke reflection and debate almost two hundred years after it was written. We started talking about the text, about how the topic of mastery is elaborated, about how passions are portrayed, the contradictions and the painters’ workshops, of how he talks about money and the conditions of life of the modern artist, and how he reveals the identity of the characters. We also talked of the tensions that make up its background (between painting and poetry, between love and death, between sense and craziness, between imitation and expression, and a long etcetera).
Attendees at the Reading Club | Books used during the session | Margarida Corgadella and Jordi Carrión
Afterwards, Margarida Cortadella explained how Picasso thought about the artist’s book in which the text of Balzac had to coexist with his drawings and lithographs, looking in depth at the aspects related to the history and production of these publications – the economic risks they signified, the involvement of numerous professionals from various fields, the care for details such as the paper, typeface, etc., as well as in terms of the relation, free yet at the same time demanding, of Picasso, who lived his contributions in an open and passionate way. Finally we discussed issues about the worlds of Balzac and Picasso, as well as other universal topics, that make this novel a fundamental text for understanding the theories and practices of modernity.
Title page | Front cover | Inside title page
Introduction by Picasso with drawings
First chapter with illustrations by Picasso
Prints of Picasso at the end of the book
Order prints by Picasso | Book Cover | Back Cover
In the next session we will discuss The Soldiers of Salamis, by Javier Cercas, with the presence of the author. This reading is within the framework of the exhibition “Vignettes on the Front”, about the Republic and the Civil War. For a taste of the novel, click here.