Today I ended up on the Time web site, a gallery of photos of the artist Picasso, taken by Gjon Mili, from 1948 to 1967. Everyone knows Picasso had Afghan hounds. So a certain photo caught my eye.
In 1967, for example, Mili returned to the South of France, where Picasso was living, in Mougins, with his second wife, Jacqueline Roque. Inside the artist’s workshop, he found a few small metal monkeys that Picasso had fashioned, seemingly on a whim (see slide #8). LIFE described Picasso’s technique in creating these wonderful, playful sculptures: “He made paper cut-outs, then had the patterns transferred to sheet metal which he folded into animals with lively personalities, turning his paper-thin material into surprisingly substantial works of art.”
Femme au Chien (Jaqueline avec Kabul), 1962
Jaqueline Roque, Picasso’s last wife, with Kabul, the Afghan.
From Picasso’s Dogs, Muse and mascot: the artist’s life-long love affair with his canine companions, by Stanley Coren:
Once I was in front of him, I quickly asked him in Spanish “Excuse me. I know that this occasion has to do with your art, but might I ask you a quick question about your dogs?”
On hearing his native tongue being spoken, he looked directly at me with the barest hint of a smile.
“Certainly,” he said.
“I have seen photographs of you with so many different breeds of dogs. Is there any one breed, or any one dog, that was your favourite?”
Now he did smile.
“I have had so many,” he said and as he started speaking his dark eyes drifted upward, “Some were gifts, some I found. Breeds… I do not usually get the same breed of dog again. I want each to be an individual and I do not want to live with the ghosts of the other dogs. Of course there was Lump, my Dachshund. I used to put him in my paintings when they needed something to make them lighter and more amusing. I suppose that I am fickle in my affections, but after a dog has left my life I try to quickly fill its place with another. Right now I have an Afghan Hound named Kabul. He is elegant, with graceful proportions, and I love the way he moves. I put a representation of his head on a statue that I created for Daley Plaza in Chicago and I do think of him sometimes while I am in my studio.”
He looked directly at me, and as he continued speaking, his right hand was making lines and curves in the air, as if he were drawing something on an invisible canvas in front of us.
“Often, if he comes into my mind when I am working, it alters what I do. The nose on the face I am drawing gets longer and sharper. The hair of the woman I am sketching gets longer and fluffy, resting against her cheeks like his ears rest against his head. Yes, if I have a favourite, for now at least, it is my Afghan Hound, Kabul.”
Not monkeys, no.
More pictures of Picasso’s dogs, including Kabul in old age, here.