producers Big Star have played ‘what

Big star

Monster or master? Catalan genius Picasso had elements of both as Beatrice Colin discovers from a BBC season of programmes on one of art’s greatest legends.

‘Picasso was a monster,‘ said former mistress, Francoise Gilot, ‘but a sacred monster.‘ To coincide with an exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London, this painter. sculptor and sacred monster is the subject of a season of programmes on BBC2. For twelve days, the life, love and work of Picasso will be examined in a range of new and archive films.

‘He is one of the most important artists of the century.’ says executive producer, Keith Alexander. ‘He was amazingly prolific in his output and is interesting from lots of different points of view.’

Within the season there is a whole range of different approaches from art historical to autobiographical. It kicks off with a 45-minute film. Yo Picasso, titled after the signature the artist used early in his career. A dramatised documentary. the programme stars

actor Brian Cox as the Picasso of the early 605, being : . an easy time and he was pretty ruthless in his relationships.‘ says Alexander. ‘He strung women

interviewed in his studio by a director. played by Bill Paterson.

Yo Picasso is quite an amusing and entertaining introduction to his life,‘ says Alexander. ‘We‘ve dramatised an interview drawing in what people reported he had said because he didn‘t give interviews. He didn‘t write things down either so all we can do is go by what he said to others.’

Cut with real interviews with three of his former mistresses, Irene Lagut, who is now 102, Francoise Gilot and Genevieve Laporte, the programme patches together an incredble career. Starting in Spain, where he was born. then moving to Paris and years spent in

a garret, and finally to fortune, fame and trouble with

the FBI, this is biography. TV-style. ‘We‘ve got the interview he never gave basically.‘ says Alexander.


Picasso‘s lovers, friends and acquaintances were

i able to vividly remember their conversations together

but not because of his charm. ‘He didn’t give people

along and was a pretty manipulative character basically. Everything however, served his art which is incredibly autobiographical.‘

Apparently, just to spend time with Picasso was an exhilarating but exhausting experience. But at the end of the day, when everybody would collapse, he would go off to the studio for a night’s painting, fired up with the energy of everybody else. ‘He was a vampire,’ says Alexander, ‘quite a difficult but certainly outsize character who seemed. nevertheless

to command amazing affection.‘

The highlights of the season are three programmes by biographer, John Richardson on three dramatic

moments in Picasso‘s life which had a direct effect

. . I . I. ' Sylvette Davide’s story is told in Picasso And the Model

on his work. Le Mystere Picasso a film made in- I955 by Clouzot in which Picasso spends three days creating original works for the camera and The Picasso Files a film which examines his left-wing political allegiances and explores the manipulation of artists, intellectuals and celebrities by world powers. But what makes Picasso‘s private life so interesting? ‘Picasso himself said that life is more important than the art,‘ stresses Alexander. ‘He was

very aware of that and he was as much a symbol of

what he stood for as his art was. His work was

influenced by relationships and changed direction as he went through each new one and there was this incredible synergy between what was happening in

9 his personal life and what was happening in his art. ' Warhol didn‘t invent the artist as a celebrity. Picasso was the first star.‘

Picasso; a season of pro grammes is on BBC 2 from

_ Get ’em in

‘You get stuck in a lift with Ollie need, you’d get a good shagging, whether you were male of female’ - a touching tribute to a great British actor from llME writer Steven Wells. Ollie isn’t dead, but those lovable Scottish

if?’ for another Channel 4 Obituary 1 Show, and the results are an 2 illuminating profile of a notorious hellraiser.

lleed sits in his celestial seat (that’s a surprise for a start) recalling the

Oliver lleed props up the celestial bar

. highlights of an uneven career with a 3 delicious blend of candour and

; vulgarity. ‘I got the part of Bill Sykes

: because my uncle directed the film,’

i he admits. ‘It’s called nepotism, a long

1 word but it‘s something to do with

1 coming out of the same cock.’ In the film (Oliver! appropriately enough),

I Reed’s touching reassurance to llancy

: (“Course I luvs yer, l fucks yer dun l?’)

I had to be amended slightly for the

' lleed’s thespian talents, it’s difficult to get beyond the boorish displays of laddlshness that have characterised his public profile over the last decade. ‘lle’s a lads’ lcon,’ beams Sun columnist Oarry Bushell, while Alex


i Higgins bestows a twitching, nervy tribute to Reed’s all-round good- blokeishness that would have been more affecting if lligglns hadn’t looked as if he were away with some fiendish fairies of his own.

need emerges as a slightly sad, but engaging figure. ‘I regret not having made love to every woman on earth,’

final version. he says wistfully. ‘I regret not going As much as pundits like Oerek into every bar on earth. If someone Malcolm and Jack Tinker talk in punches me on the nose l’ll punch broadly approbatory terms about them back. if someone buys me a

drink I’ll buy them one back . . .’ Fair enough. Whose round? (Torn Lappin)

Without Walls: The Obituary Show is on Channel 4 on Tuesday 22 February

at9pm. VIEW

The List r 144 February 1994 59