Picasso and the Reventós family by letter

We often know little about private and personal aspects of the artists, which are unlikely to be visible by means of their work. The correspondence ?when it is preserved? is one of the richest documentary sources to gain access, in part, to this hidden side.

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Cover and back cover of the publication Picasso and Reventós: A correspondence between friends

On the occasion of the exhibition “Picasso and Reventós”, the Museu Picasso commissioned the specialist Marylin McCully with the edition of the above-mentioned publication on the epistolary relationship between Picasso and his friends Ramon and Jacint Reventós. The result is an unusual book that speaks to us more about life than about art: Picasso and Reventós: A correspondence among friends.

The volume includes the translation and transcription of the 27 letters that are known between Picasso and these Barcelonian friends from youth (including those that Jacint’s son also sent to the artist). The originals come from the Fundació Picasso-Reventós, the Museu Picasso, the Musée national Picasso-Paris and a private collection. The motif reproduced on the cover is the envelope of one of the letters and that curiously was where Picasso ended up «filing» the letters from his friends, the Reventós family.

Carta Reventós

After two brief introductory essays, one by the editor herself and one by Malén Gual about the Reventós family, the translation and or transcription of the correspondence can be read in the form of a serial. As illustrations, the editor decided to only reproduce the letters of Picasso and a small sample of those of the Reventós. At the end of the book, however, the reader has access to the original text of each letter (in Catalan or Spanish) and a descriptive heading in which clarifications are made with regard to the dating, or details about the paper or envelopes used, the addresses or the postmarks.

In this last section we can directly gain access to the sarcastic style of Carles Casagemas (co-author of the first letters sent from Paris) and his rich descriptions of the bohemian life that could be seen in the French capital, or also highlighting the limited skills that Picasso had when writing, a lack that was more than compensated by the drawing that he would include in some of these first letters.

As the chronology of the correspondence advances, so the reader is able to discover everything from the Picasso’s moaning about the hardness of the work process, the worries of Ramon Reventós to ensure some form of subsistence in his planned move to Paris, or the description made by Jacint Reventós of his profession of being a doctor. But, above all, what the letters exude is the lasting nature of an affective bonding that was born in the Barcelona of the turn of the century.

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