Inside Pablo Picasso's Studio (And Up His Nose)

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Maybe these photographs of Pablo Picasso playing bull fighter with his bath towel and parading in his briefs will school us in the mystique charms that won over wives and mistresses alike. Noted photojournalist David Douglas Duncan spent some time at Picasso’s Vill La Californie, catching the artist chomping fish, practicing his ballet moves and painting shirtless. Fun guy, right? “I’ve photographed him some 25,000 times, and each time he seemed perfectly normal, the same as anyone else, except for his eyes,” Duncan has said. Yeah, that must be it. Just in case you can’t make the photographer’s latest exhibit at Museo Picasso Málaga in Spain, enjoy the views in our slide show… that is, if you can handle Picasso in fisheye!

Pablo Picasso bathing, on the first day after meeting David Douglas Duncan, 8 February 1956. Gelatin silver print, 20,7 x 25, 4 cm. Private Collection © David Douglas Duncan 2011.

Pablo Picasso and Jacqueline look out a window from a room filled with the artist’s canvases. Jacqueline and Picasso gaze out the window of his studio at Villa La Californie, 1960 © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Picasso, clad only in briefs and slippers, his bathrobe draped over one arm, poses with his Afghan hound Kabul on the front steps of Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins, 1959 or later. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Picasso savors his fish down to the bone, 1957. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Fish-eye Picasso. 1963. The Nikon camera company’s engineers sent me a prototype of a new lens to test. I did, at the beach in Cannes, using as my subject the greatest portrait distorter of all time.” Viva Picasso, p. 149. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Picasso paints a portrait – the first brush stroke a simple line. Villa La Californie, 1957. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Pablo Picasso and one of his paintings. [1963 or 1964.]” Prismatics, index of plates. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Pablo Picasso’s back beside Mujer encinta (1950), Cannes, villa La Californie, Summer 1957. Gelatin silver print, 35,5 x 25,5 cm. Private Collection © David Douglas Duncan 2011.

Various sculptures, including one of a goat to which Picasso’s pet goat is chained, adorned the front lawn of the Villa La Californie, 1957. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Pablo Picasso teases his dachshund Lump with a cardboard rabbit he just cut out from a candy box. La Californie, 1957. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Pablo Picasso holding out a towel the way a bullfighter holds out his cape. “The morning after bullfights in Arles, Picasso spun around with his bath towel, baiting Jacqueline across the room. [Villa La Californie, 1957.]” Viva Picasso, p. 139. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Picasso as an American Indian chief. 1960. Gary Cooper gave the artist this eagle-feather war bonnet during a visit with his family to La Californie. A moment after Cooper helped arrange it on Picasso’s head, Pablo turned to a wall where torero Luis Miguel Dominguin had earlier hung the tail of a fighting bull awarded him at a corrida. With a flick of his fingers the bull’s tail was shoved up under the brim of the war bonnet, while Picasso pursed his lips and steeled his eyes: voilà — Geronimo!” Viva Picasso, p. 149. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Lump, the little dachshund, was undoubtedly one of the most favored individuals ever welcomed by Picasso . . . One day, Picasso asked whether Lump ever had his own plate. ‘Never?’ This was remedied before the painter left for his ceramics kilns in nearby Vallauris. [Villa La Californie, 1957.]” Goodbye Picasso, p. 46. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Pablo Picasso and Jacqueline dancing in front of Bañistas en La Garoupe (1957), Cannes, villa La Californie, 1957. Gelatin silver print, 25,5 x 38 cm. Private Collection © David Douglas Duncan 2011.

Paloma Picasso, age 8, holds up her latest drawing. Picasso’s daughter, Paloma, proudly holds up her latest drawing, July 13th, 1957. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Picasso and Jacqueline returned to La Californie from Vauvenargues within six months after their emotion-filled spring move . . . the château would always be a secret retreat, but, for the moment at least, Villa La Californie was still home. And it was here that Jacqueline played an ever-more vital part in the artist’s life. She helped tirelessly, silently, on canvas-signing days, until the final ‘K’ (Kahnweiler) was printed on works for Paris, for their journey from his studio to a future life of their own. [Circa early 1960s.]” Goodbye Picasso, p. 212. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

A rainbow hovers over Picasso and Château de Vauvenargues on an afternoon in the autumn of 1959. © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.