#PhotoCollection: Robert Doisneau, Picasso and the rolls

Pablo Picasso et les petits pains, 1953©Robert Doisneau Gelatin silver print, printed later. Image: 26 x 20 cm

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Pablo Picasso et les petits pains, 1953©Robert Doisneau Gelatin silver print, printed later. Image: 26 x 20 cm

Robert Doisneau participated in the resistance by making fake papers. This activity led him to meet the printers and publishers of the literary magazine Le Point. The latter asked him to produce a report on Pablo Picasso in Vallauris, which would be published in October 1952. This photographic report illustrates Picasso day by day and the second cutlery visible on the kitchen table is none other than that of his partner Françoise Gillot. The Spanish master stayed there from 1947 to 1954.

This portrait of Pablo Picasso by Robert Doisneau may seem harmless at first glance. After a more sustained reading, it is obvious that the trompe-l’oeil supposed to represent the master’s hands is indeed only a succession of rolls aligned to represent his fingers placed on the table. The escape of the master’s gaze guides us elsewhere, letting the subterfuge of bread unfold during our rapid analysis of the image.

To whom do we owe this staging? The author of this photograph Robert Doisneau follower of a humanist photography letting the decisive moment handle his gaze or is it the Spanish painter, the cornerstone of 20th century art, much better able to play with our impressions and emotions? The staging is the result of their collaboration since Doisneau brings rolls that the local baker has called Picassos. He puts them on the table and Picasso takes care of the rest.

Robert Doisneau is a central figure in French humanist photography and his international fame is due to a famous shot in front of the Town Hall, whose famous kiss captivated many people. This scene, which we believe to have been taken in action, is in fact a staging of the photographer with two young actors in love. The staging is indeed one of the subterfuge among others that humanists have been able to adopt over the course of their careers.

Known for his work mainly from Parisian life, Robert Doisneau also happens to be an excellent portrait painter and his reputation has led him to immortalize renowned artists in their studio such as Dubuffet, Giacometti, Léger, Braque and Picasso but this time in his kitchen and not in the middle of his studio as André Villers or David Douglas Duncan could have done. Here we are in the heart of his intimacy in a probably modest interior. It is easier to portray an artist among his canvases in order to bring out his character, yet the strength of this photography lies in the simple intervention of the buns and reveals the genius of both artists.

This work by Robert Doisneau is part of his most famous iconography. What characterizes this particular test is that it is in an immaculate state of preservation. This criterion is essential when considering a print from a humanist photographer.

Explanatory note of 28 Vignon Street

ROBERT DOISNEAU

PABLO PICASSO ET LES PETITS PAINS,1953

Gelatin silver print, printed later.
Image: 26 x 20 cm

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